That is a great question especially since the kids are getting back to school and after school sports are in full swing.
There is no question that playing sports and being athletic can impact the nutritional needs of our kids. We need to give them the nutrients they need to have continued appropriate growth and development and also the additional fuel they need to participate fully in their favorite sports.
It will be important for all ages playing sports to get enough of these components for health.
- Calories to fuel their activity
- Protein to build their muscles
- Water to quench their thirst and prevent overheating – add 8 ounces of water for every half hour of strenuous activity
- Carbohydrates to give them energy and fuel for performance
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Kids Eat Right program have these great suggestions for providing all their nutritional needs in a package they enjoy.
- Peanut butter or hummus and whole grain bread or crackers
- Sliced turkey in whole wheat pita or tortilla wrap
- Scrambled or hard boiled eggs with wheat toast
- Low fat milk especially chocolate, yogurt and cheeses for protein and calories for recovery
- Fruits and vegetables should partner with all meals and snacks to provide a complete plate
- Snack on trail mix and fresh fruit
Avoid high fat and added sugar items that aren’t healthy choices for active kids.
Be careful to time your child’s food intake with their activity. A full meal will need about 2 hours to digest. Avoid overeating too close to a sporting event for best health and performance. A small snack can be eaten 30 minutes before a competition however.
A good rule of thumb for active kids is to provide teenage boys 3000 to 4000 calories a day and teen girls 2200 to 3000 calories.
Healthy, happy kids who are ready to play allow parents to sit back and enjoy the game too!