Sport Nutrition for Young Athletes
- Coach Razvan (Gymnastics Coach)
Pre-workout snacks aren’t just for adults. Sports nutrition for young athletes is equally as important – if not more so. Why? Poor eating habits can lead to nutrient deficiencies, which can affect your child’s healthy development, academic performance as well as their ability to excel in their favorite sport.
It is important for the junior gymnast or dancer to eat well everyday – not just on competition days or before a performance. The foods that they eat on a day to day basis help develop the ability to store glycogen in their muscles, maximise their growth and development and prepare them for performing at their best every day.
Active children need constant refuelling, hydrating and cooling. Their nutrition needs are particularly important as they must meet requirements for not only their physical activity, but also their growth and development, as well as overall health and wellbeing.
The junior athlete will perform better, and recover quicker from training and competition when they are well fuelled. A junior dancer or gymnast who is not giving adequate consideration to their diet when choosing their meals and snacks may become tired, irritable, and lethargic, and may even struggle to maintain interest and enjoyment in their chosen activity.
What makes a healthy pre-workout snack for kids?
Thankfully, the formula is as easy as 1 + 1. Pair a simple carbohydrate with a lean source of protein. Simple carbohydrates are the ones that break down quickly in the body, such as the carbs found in fruits, vegetables and dairy milk. Lean protein sources include turkey, chicken and low-fat cheese or yogurt.
Need some snack inspiration for your growing athlete?
Time is tight enough, as you run from school to gymnastics practice to violin lessons and beyond. Coming up with the perfect pre-practice munchies every day may not always make the to-do list. Not to worry. With the right mix of carbohydrates, protein and minimal fat, these easy-to-prep, portable snacks will make your young athlete feel energized and ready to tackle even the toughest skill drills.
⁃ Greek yogurt
⁃ Small apple with 2-3 slices turkey
⁃ A fruit and veggie purée
⁃ A small fruit smoothie
⁃ Trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried fruits
It is important that active children start drinking well before they get to training or their event. Junior athletes should be encouraged to drink fluid with meals and snacks on training days. Children should always have their own water bottle handy to sip from during training breaks.