What your child eats will play a significant role in how they perform in local youth sports. Their diet should contain an adequate amount of protein (not excessive) to repair and rebuild their muscle tissue, grow their fingernails and hair, boost their immunity system, produce hormones and replace their red blood cells. Like carbohydrates, the amount of proteins needed for any young athlete is dependent on the type of sports they play.
As a general rule, children often consume more proteins than their body actually requires. Many studies have been done to determine the exact protein requirements necessary for active-sports boys and girls, simply because the needs of every individual will vary. Scientists focused on the effects of exercise have determined that nearly every athlete requires just slightly more proteins than non-active people. They use the additional protein to repair minimal amounts of muscle damage that often is a byproduct of exercise, game playing and training. The protein is used to produce energy during exercise routines and to support the building of newly formed, maturing formed muscle tissue (especially in growing teen aged athletes.
As a general rule, youth athletes tend to follow one of two paths. There are children that typically consume too much food including football players, weightlifters, and bodybuilders. Other children tend to consume too little of the essential protein required. Those young athletes include skaters, gymnasts, dancers, swimmers, runners and athletes to choose not to eat meat, but tend to favor vegetables over proteins. Both groups tend to rank low in living a healthy lifestyle, due to the imbalances of their diet.
As a parent, it is essential to ensure that your child is consuming the proper amount of protein every day. As your young athlete’s body continues to mature, they will naturally have a need for a slight increase in the amount of proteins they consume. Avoiding saturated fats found in burgers, cheese omelets and most fast foods, is the first step in adjusting their diet to be healthier. If your child’s chooses to be on a vegetarian or a low-fat diet, they can consume beans in place of beef, or can choose another appropriate substitute, including tofu. When replacing animal-based proteins with non-animal products, the protein level must be equal, no matter what the source.
On play day or whenever your child exercises, it is imperative that he or she avoids becoming dehydrated or eating high-fat meals. As their nutrition coach, it is your job to ensure they consume the foods they need to provide the energy required when participating in their local youth sports. The more active your child becomes, the more hydration and energy they will require on an off the field.
A quality meal in the morning can include oatmeal with milk, fruit and almonds. Greek yogurt works well too, especially when mixed with granola, fruit and milk. If you insist on making a heartier breakfast, fix them a delicious meal with ham and eggs wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.
The best way to ensure your child is eating right for their sports activities is to eat right yourself. Sharing your wisdom about proper nutrition is the best way to teach your children. Although life can be hectic for families that live and on the go routine, consider making better choices including easy to prepare breakfasts, lunches, dinners and all of the in-between meal snacks you feed your active young athletes.
Youth sports provide a great outlet for your young child, and offer a way to teach him or her many lessons to be learned by participating in a variety of local youth sports including youth soccer, basketball, baseball and others.
Bryon Blandin is the owner of Mambo Sports. Mambo Sports is committed to becoming the first complete national youth sports directory of up-to-date information for youth athletes.