When it comes to feeding your child athlete, nothing is more important than balanced meals and snacks of protein, carbohydrates, and starch. They might not think so but it’s what’s best for their growing athletic bodies. Many kids will naturally crave whatever their bodies need so it’s important for parents and coaches to pay attention.
In terms of vitamins and minerals, calcium and iron are important as well as protein for strong bones and muscles.
Calcium will help bones resist stress fractures and can be found in low-fat dairy like milk, cheese, and yogurt. If your child isn’t into dairy, try leafy green vegetables mixed in a smoothie with almond milk and frozen fruit.
Iron carries oxygen throughout the body and can be found in chicken, tuna, eggs, salmon, dried fruit, leafy vegetables, and whole grains.
Protein is a building block that helps bones, muscles, and cartilage grow and repair and is needed to make enzymes and hormones. Healthy sources of protein include almonds, chicken, eggs, peanut butter, and beans.
Don’t forget carbohydrates. Whole grains, quinoa, fruits, and vegetables.
Feeding Your Child Athlete on the Go
Life is crazy especially if you have a child in gymnastics or other sports. It can feel like you never have family time at home to just relax. Often families eat fast food and sugary drinks on their way to yet another practice. While eating something is better than working out on an empty stomach, we encourage parents to plan snacks and meals ahead of time so your children (and you) are eating healthy.
For your athlete on the go, consider protein bars, shakes, or apples with peanut butter as a snack between meals. Stay away from inflammatory foods like sugar, including soda, and white bread that can cause damage or injury to growing bones and muscles.
While working out, be sure to stay hydrated with water and fruit. Sports drinks are okay for the most intense workouts but don’t make it a habit to drink those. Many contain high amounts of sugar that can inflame already tired muscles.
Having an athlete in the family makes your life busier but that doesn’t mean the family can’t eat healthy. Pack the protein bars, almonds, fruit, and water, and get ready for a busy week!