Kids and sports, all kids should all be involved in some sort of activity: football, baseball, basketball, gymnastics, track, martial arts…being able to fuel activity is dependent on energizing the body.
Calories provide energy but the body depends on micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to assist in muscle movement and flexibility, bone strength, hydration and much more. When fueling your child think about calories as being the package for the gift. The gift being a sports advantage (reduced risk of injury, better working more efficient fuel system) through balanced nutrition not just calories.
There is no magic bullet when it comes to giving your child the competitive edge, but synergy amongst 5 key lifestyle habits will help make the difference.
- Adequate hydration before, during and after work outs ( 20 oz. water 2.5 hours before exercise, 10 oz. 15 minutes before exercise, 8 oz. for every 15 minutes of physical activity and continue drinking water throughout the course of the day)
- Electrolyte balance**
- Adequate balance of energy intake & micronutrients**
- Anti-oxidant intake through eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and basic supplementation**
- Sufficient sleep is needed for muscle repair, lack of sleep affects the hormones that are active in post work out muscle repair
** Key micronutrients, electrolytes and antioxidants for active kids vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
Iron (carries oxygen to the cells for energy) best absorbed from red meat
B vitamins (create energy and are essential for growth and development, involved in healthy looking skin and forming red blood cells)
Vitamin C (antioxidant, also supports iron absorption)
Zinc (growth healthy immune system, and healthy skin, hair, nails and eyes)
Copper (supports the absorption of iron, helps in blood formation)
Selenium (protection from oxidation caused by due high intensity exercise)
GOOD FUEL WORKS
- Eat a variety of foods to supply electrolytes, vitamins/minerals and antioxidants. Use common sense, know what you and your children are putting into your bodies. Do not fall for marketing strategies that hook you and draw you in.
Read labels. Look at the ingredient section to identify what kids are really eating.
- Don’t fall into the “fat trap”, active children need more calories . More calories do not mean milkshakes, French fries and pizza galore. Include healthy natural fat foods that add nutrient value to get a broad range of nutrients that will support good health and sports performance.
Healthy natural fats from nuts (coconut, peanuts, almonds…) and seeds (pumpkin, flaxseed, sunflower) avocado, olives or olive oil, fish, full fat diary etc…play important roles for hormone development, reduced inflammation. Skin, hair, nail, brain, nerves, hormones need these healthy fats.
- Rest, relaxation and sleep are critical elements to rejuvenate the muscles and hormones that need to work at peak performance during games and major events.
Spending time in a warm bath, creating time to read in bed at the end of the day, ensure sleep duration matches age appropriate recommendations are just a few things that support work-out recovery.
If you are interested in my top 5 nutrient picks for kids, snack and supplement ideas, check in next week.