Nutrition for the young athlete

Pre event meals: An overall balanced diet is the most important nutrition related factor in your child's athletic performance, but that's not what the coach tends to stress. Therefore, its your job to keep track of that component. You coaches out there will want to make sure you give good advise to your player ons what to eat in those crucial hours before the big event. The most important factor is that your athletes have a good supply of energy ready to go to work in their muscles. A meal relatively high in carbohydrate is the best choice. Keep the levels of fat and protein low since they take longer to digest which can result in nausea or even vomiting. Some athletes get so excited before an event that it interferes with digestion. It is best to exercise on an empty (not hungry) stomach. It is best to eat well beforehand, that means no closer than two to four hours before practice or competition. Digestion requires routing the blood supply to the digestive tract to pick up nutrients. By the time exercise begins, the blood should be freed of that task so it can focus on the more immediate job of carrying oxygen rich blood to exercising muscles.

 

The energy supplied to and stored in muscles for use during exercise was put there hours or days earlier. Simple sugars like candy or soda eaten just prior to an event may cause an interfering swing in blood sugar levels that could adversely affect the child's performance without providing that quick energy you thought it would.

Don't forget the fluids. A child should be encouraged to drink all day long so he begins the event well hydrated.

For a four o'clock soccer game, a good one o'clock pre-event lunch would be:

  1. Bagel with a small amount of peanut butter and some honey
    Orange
    1 cup low fat milk

    or

  2. 2 slices whole wheat bread with 1 oz of turkey breast, tomato slices and lettuce
    1 cup fruit yogurt
    1 cup orange juice

    or

  3. 2 slices 1/3 inch thick slice of Power Bread (recipe follows)
    Carrot sticks
    1 cup low fat milk

Power Bread

Group A

  • 1 cup each whole wheat and all-purpose flour
  • 1 /2 tsp each salt and baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2/3 cup nonfat dry milk/3 cup wheat germ
  • 1 /2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 /2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 /2 cup unsalted, dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 /2 cup raisins

Group B

  • 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/ 2 cup canola oil
  • 1 /2 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 medium bananas, mashed
  1. Mix together Group A in a large bowl.
  2. Whirl Group B (except apricots) in a blender or food processor.
  3. Add apricots and whirl just to chop coarsely.
  4. Pour Group B into bowl with group A and blend until moistened.
  5. Pour into two greased bread pans and bake at 325 for one hour or until center is firm when pressed lightly.

This bread is best if wrapped tightly in plastic and stored overnight for flavors to blend. This bread is a good source of carbohydrates, protein, calcium, iron and vitamin A.

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