Nutrition Tips for Your Young Athletes

Post-Game Meals

Proper post-game nutrition is also imperative to help the body recover and ensure that kids replenish the nutrients, carbohydrates and protein they expended during physical activity.

If kids are unable to eat a meal immediately after their practice or game, it's a good idea to pack portable, nutritious snacks to tide them over.

Here are some examples of snacks to have on hand:

  • Flavored low-fat, nonfat or soy milk.
  • All natural low-fat or nonfat yogurt with potassium-rich fruit such as a banana or orange.
  • A low-fat cheese stick with whole grain crackers or pretzels.
  • A hard-boiled egg with some fruit.
  • organic nut butters with whole-grain crackers or a banana.
  • Whole-grain cereal with dried fruit or a banana or orange.

Post-game meals should follow the same guidelines as pre-game meals; prepare a plate that is 50 to 60 percent carbohydrate, 25 to 30 percent vegetables and 15 to 20 percent protein.

More: 10 Tips to Get Kids to Eat Healhty

Hydration for Young Athletes

Whether kids play indoor sports like basketball and volleyball, or outdoor sports such as baseball and soccer, proper hydration is essential for their health and performance.

Jeffrey recommends that kids drink 2 cups of fluid (water or sports drink) 2 to 3 hours prior to their sporting event. They should consume another 4 to 10 ounces of fluid 15 to 30 minutes before their practice or game.

Athletes will sweat during physical activity and it's important for them to replenish electrolytes. If possible, kids should aim to drink 4 to 6 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes while playing sports.

Hydrating fruits such as sliced oranges or watermelon are also great to quench kids' thirst between games or as healthy post-game snacks.

More: Hydration Basics

Between Game Snacks

In sports such as basketball, soccer and softball, teams may have tournaments and will play several consecutive games in the course of a day. For these occasions pack light, healthy snacks that will help kids keep their energy level up between games.

Fill a cooler or lunch box with some yogurt and fruit, lightly salted snacks such as pretzels and crackers to replace sodium lost in sweat, and a protein source such as nuts, seeds or nut butters. Don't forget to bring plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

Remind your kids that eating healthy will help them grow, build strength, and allow them to perform well at their sport or activity of choice. Try to find food and snacks that are healthy but that your kids will enjoy. Encourage your little ones to eat well so they can play well and remind them that you are always proud of them when they try their best.

More: How to Build Delcious and Nutritious Kid Friendly Snacks

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