Medical Articles

Fueling Up Your Athlete

School is back into full swing from Christmas break and kids are back to sports conditioning. They may be spending plenty of hours on the field trying to improve in their sport, but the time spent off the court is just if not MORE important. Nutrition plays is a VITAL role in the conditioning and performance of your young athlete. Athletes are bombarded with misleading nutritional information so it is time to get the facts straight.

The American Dietetic Association, Dieticians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine published a joint position statement regarding nutrition and athletic performance. This information should be used as the foundation to proper nutrition. However, for specific information customized to an individual, you should always consult a registered dietician in your area.

Pre-workout Nutrition:

Athletes should eat before any type of physical activity rather than on an empty stomach. By consuming a meal that is higher in carbohydrates before exercising it allows the blood glucose levels to stay at a steady level. It also provides additional energy to get through the activity. A good meal would include one that is higher in carbohydrates, low in fiber an fat and moderate in protein. It is always important to be well hydrated before, during, and after a sport conditioning event. It is recommended that athletes should drink about 2-3 ml of fluid per pound of bodyweight. By consuming fluids four hours before the workout you are allowing enough time for proper hydration. Just at 3% dehydration your body is already experiencing dehydration effects.

Post Workout Nutrition:

First and foremost replace the fluids that were lost during the workout and then some; salty foods as snacks will also aid in the electrolyte recovery. Complete rehydration requires replacement of sodium and potassium as well as extra fluid. Save the sports drinks for endurance workouts that last an hour or more. Post Workout Meals are best consumed during the "window of opportunity" that is the 30 minutes to an hour following the workout. Meals should consist of carbohydrates and protein. Protein helps repair and synthesize muscle protein in the body. Protein also provides amino acids for building, maintaining, and repairing the muscle. Some research shows that by consuming 7-10 grams of protein with a carbohydrate 30 minutes post workout is enough to start muscle protein synthesis.

Athletes that adopt healthy nutritional habits will improve in their athletic performance and experience better and faster recovery. Just because their young it doesn't mean they should fill up on junk foods. Nutrition is important for endurance, recovery, maintenance, disease prevention, and steady blood glucose levels.

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