By Nutritionist Blogger Jeni Tackett, RD, LD
Sports season in the Quad Cities is in full gear with football, soccer, cross-country, golf, and other sports dominating family schedules.
I’ve certainly spent my time as a bleacher mom, watching my son play seasons of baseball, and my daughter, Lily, is really into running now.
It’s critical for parents to understand the importance of nutrition for the athletes in their household. The Olympic athletes may have registered dietitians helping them fuel for optimal performance, but as parents, we’re on our own.
Nutrition can help to improve performance (everyone wants that!), prevent injury, and recover from injury.
The key is to fuel throughout the day.
Starting the day with a healthy breakfast tops off glycogen (energy stores in your muscles), and allows athletes to perform better. Encourage your athlete to eat breakfast every day.
Breakfast should be 2-3 hours before exercise or a game. Or have a snack 30 minutes-1 hour before you exercise and follow up with a recovery snack.
Eat a breakfast that contains carbohydrate (such as whole wheat toast, oatmeal, or whole grain waffles) and protein (such as eggs, yogurt, milk, or peanut butter).
Healthy breakfast ideas:
Oatmeal made with milk and topped with berries and almonds
2 slices of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a slice of melon
2 whole grain waffles with peanut butter and banana slices in a sandwich form
For breakfast on the go, try a smoothie made with milk and frozen fruit
2. Pre-game snacks
Athletes should fuel their bodies before exercise. Have a snack 30 minutes to 1 hour before practice or a game.
Snacks should be high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat and fiber.
Healthy pre-game snack ideas:
Yogurt and fruit, fig bars, fruit smoothies, granola bars
3. Post-game recovery ideas
After a game or exercise, athletes need to refuel within 30 minutes to an hour. So make sure they bring food and water for post-game!
Refuel with carbohydrates and protein to reduce fatigue and injury and restore glycogen stores.
If your athletes are on the road, make sure to throw some recovery foods and beverages in their gym bags.
Healthy recovery foods and drinks:
Trail mix and Gatorade (easy to pack in gym bags), bagel with peanut butter, turkey sandwich, chocolate milk.
4. Hydrate, hydrate!
Throughout exercise and after events, make sure your athlete stays hydrated.
Pack a water bottle, and increase hydration during hot weather events.
Although sports drinks are not recommended or necessary for sedentary individuals, athletes who torch calories and require increased carbohydrates during practices and games can use sports drinks to meet hydration and nutrition needs.
A combination of water and sports drinks can meet hydration goals for athletes.
For more information, check out the dietary guidelines for student athletes from the NCAA.
|Meet Jeni Tackett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Nutrition Blogger. Jeni is a registered and licensed dietitian for Unity Point-Trinity. Jeni counsels her clients on weight loss and nutrition. You can read Jeni’s bio and other blog posts by clicking here.|