Tips to Excel with Proper Sports Nutrition
Nutrition is extremely important for athletes to perform up to their potential, and improper nutrition can actually be dangerous and lead to sports injuries. For youth athletes who participate in sports programs, a healthy diet is even more important. Youth athletes are not only putting extra stress on their bodies, but they’re also growing rapidly, and they’re at greater risk of injury than fully-developed athletes. They need extra calories, vitamins, and minerals to get through physically demanding practices, support healthy growth, and help prevent injuries. Does your child know the importance of proper sports nutrition for youth athletes? Do they know what foods they should be eating to perform up to their potential?
Make a plan to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily. The goal is to eat at least five servings per day, and include varieties of fruit and vegetable color. One serving is approximately the size of a baseball. Fruits and vegetables are filled with the energy and nutrients necessary for training and recovery. Plus, these antioxidant-rich foods will help you combat illness like a cold or the flu.
Choose whole grain carbohydrates sources such as whole-wheat bread or pasta, and fiber-rich cereals as power-packed energy sources. Limit the refined grains and sugars such as sugary cereals, white breads and bagels. You’ll benefit more from whole-grain products.
Choose healthy sources of protein such as chicken, turkey, fish, peanut butter, eggs, nuts and legumes.
Stay hydrated with beverages, as a two percent drop in hydration levels can negatively impact performance. Options include milk, water, 100 percent fruit juice and sport drinks. However, realize that sport drinks and 100 percent fruit juice tend to be higher in overall sugar content and, in the case of fruit juice, lack many of the health benefits present in its whole food counterpart. Also, be sure not to confuse sports drinks such as Gatorade with “energy” drinks such as Red Bull and similar beverages.
Stick with whole food options as much as possible as opposed to highly processed foods.