What foods should young athletes eat?

Basically the same foods as adult athletes. It's harder to get them to eat properly but just as important, especially during their growth years. A young athlete needs to be on a nutrition plan that can maximize their performance and support their development and growth needs. Their daily calories (energy needs) are determined by personal statistics (height, weight, age, sex and daily activity). Overall diet should consist of ~50-60% carbohydrate, 15-25% protein, 20-30% fats, meals spread evenly throughout the day and properly around their training/activity. Proper carbohydrates, as shown below, are the body’s primary and preferred energy source and thus are supplied in greater amounts:

Good/Better Carb Meal Choices Not So Great Carb Meal Choices

Whole Grains (except pre-game meal – use refined grains) French Fries

  -Pastas Fruit Juices

  -Cereals Calorie sodas of any kind

  -Breads Candies including chocolate

  -Rice Donuts

Potatoes – Any kind (avoid French fries whenever possible) 

Fruits – Any kind 

Protein is needed to repair and build muscle tissues and should be ~1gm/pound/wt for a growing active athlete and selected as shown:

Good/Better Protein Meal Choices Not So Great Protein Meal Choices

Lean Meats Fatty Meats

  -Chicken    -Bacon

  -Turkey    -Untrimmed steaks

  -Beef (fillets, flank, ground, round, etc.)    -Most fast food burgers

  -Most any fish Fried Meats

Shakes/bars when necessary    -Chicken including tenders, etc.

   -Convenient fill-in when meals lack protein    -Fish and chips

Eggs Average hotdog

Soy Products 

Dietary fats are essential to health because they help deliver vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed for normal growth and functioning. Fat should make up approximately 25% percent of your diet. The majority of fat intake will automatically come from protein foods such as meat, fish, milk and other dairy products. Good sources of healthy fats include fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), olive oil, canola oil and nuts.

Pre and post training shake or nutrition bar should be consumed 10-40 minutes before training/event to increase playing energy, and the same formula immediately after in order to maximize recovery. Using the dotFIT program, you can design the young athletes ideal sports nutrition plan.

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