Sports persons are very special person no matter they are playing for the country or for themselves. So, to achieve the optimum level of physical strength, they must take special diet. The food and liquids taken by athletes of any age have major impact on their physical strength/ stamina. Food provides energy for exercising muscles and nutrients essential for growth and for immune system. Well, in this post I will be covering Diet for Junior Athletes.
Sport Coaches are being frequently questioned by the parents that what are the best food and drinks for kids to boost their stamina and performance so that their child can outshine in the field of sports.
So, this post is for all those Moms whose children are indulge in any sports activities for 2-3 hours daily.
I have penned down Sports Nutrition for Junior Athletes aged 7 to 12 years:
Carbohydrates is essential in diet for Junior Athlete for building muscles and gaining substantial energy. Approximately 55% of a junior athlete’s total daily calories should come from carbohydrate as it is the preferred fuel for the athlete’s performance. Foods that are rich in carbohydrates are breads, cereal products, pasta (original one), rice, fruits, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, starchy vegetables (corns, pumpkins, potatoes), calcium rich dairy food i.e. yogurt, soy milk, cheese, etc.
Encourage junior athletes to include protein rich food in their diet as it is necessary for building, maintaining and repairing muscle and other body tissue. Protein provides essential amino acids to grow muscles. Some protein rich foods are: Yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, milk, chickpeas, kidney beans, fish chicken breast, lentils, green peas, mixed seeds (sunflower seeds, sesame, pumpkin and Poppy seeds), Quinoa (these are sprouted seeds which nearly has doubled protein content as much as in other grains and contain all 9 amino acids that our body need to build muscles).
A word of caution: Moms you need to monitor your young athlete’s intake of proteins. Because less intake can lead to its deficiency and more intake can lead to dehydration, weight gain and calcium loss.
Moms, keep constant check on iron content also as its role is to carry oxygen to all different parts of body. Iron rich foods are: meat, chicken, dried fruits and green leafy vegetables.
4. Dairy products-
It provides 10 essential vitamins and minerals to support young athlete’s growth and training demands. It includes all good nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, glow nutrients such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and more.
They are equally important as the diet is as these drinks provides the energy. Diluted juice is another option but avoid sugary drinks which can upset the stomach. Soft drinks which has glycogen can be considered as good option. You can also give ORS solution as it is full of electrolytes and fluids and replenishes the body well.
Calcium and vitamin D-
As we all know calcium helps in building strong bones, teeth and for actual absorption of calcium the body requires Vitamin D (which can be naturally gained from sun exposure by walking in early morning sunshine for 5 to 10 minutes). Calcium rich foods are all dairy products, green leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale, etc.
Vitamin D rich foods includes fatty fish like Tuna and salmon, dairy products, orange juice, soy milk and cereals, cheese, eggs yolks etc.
In short-Major Diet for Junior Athletes:
Some Important things to remember:
Before practicing any sport-
- There should be a gap of one hour between the food intake and practicing any sport.
During practicing any sport-
- Junior athletes should replenish lost hydration stores during and after a competition or a heavy work out. Basically, water is required to hydrate junior athletes for the activities that last less than 60 minutes.
- However, during longer activities, sports beverages that provide 6%–8% carbohydrate will help re-hydrate and replenish electrolyte stores in them.
After practicing any sport-
- Recovery drinks, protein bars and fruits like bananas include potassium prevents muscle cramps and helps in recovering the body after workout.
- After practicing the game Immediately give your child proteins i.e. eggs (boiled ones) or chocolate milk that helps to relax blood vessels and helps oxygen rich blood to reach the muscles.
If their nutritional needs are not fulfilled children will show signs of:
- Lack of muscle build up
- Weaken immune system
Thus, all Junior Athletes need to eat balanced meals and have a healthy diet.
Note: You can also give protein powder to child such as GRD Protein, Protein X, etc. after consulting your doctor. But as per my opinion its always better giving direct natural protein (in the form food).
Happy Parenting with Budding Star!
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