Kids who love sports might need special nutritional help — even more food.
According to Kids Health, most kids who eat healthy, well-balanced meals will get the right amount of nutrients. Young athletes may need to eat more, focusing on protein from meat, fish, and nuts to support muscle growth.
Carbohydrates are important to keep energy levels high, but parents should choose high-quality options like brown rice, whole-grain bread, fruits, and vegetables instead of sugar.
Hydration is crucial for kids at all times, but especially around physical activity. Ideally, children will drink fluids before they play, every 15 minutes during play, and after the game is over. In most cases, water is the best choice for beating dehydration, but sports drinks are acceptable after intense physical activity to help replace the sodium and potassium lost through sweating. Sugary drinks and sodas are more likely to upset a child’s stomach before and during intense play.
Athletes, even young ones, can experience strong pressures that lead them to make poor choices for their overall health in an attempt to gain better performance or improve their appearance. This is especially true for sports that place an emphasis on weight, such as wrestling, football, dance, or gymnastics. Parents should take care not to let their children lose or gain weight too rapidly and quickly address issues with self-esteem that arise from peer pressure and unreasonable expectations. For kids, health is the most important element of sports nutrition.