Winning nutrition for spring training in Georgia
As the warm-weather sports season approaches, parents can help their young athletes succeed with a game plan for good nutrition.
Experts say proper sports nutrition is a smart investment that can offer big payoffs in endurance, performance, injury prevention, and overall physical development.
“It is essential to your child functioning at their highest level,” says Kristen Loechel, a Georgia Region dietitian. “It provides the fuel they need to get through practice, training, and competition.”
Putting theory into practice
At 11 years old, Kaiser Permanente member Adah Amoji is a young soccer athlete and cheerleader who reaps the benefits of fueling up properly — especially on veggies.
“I can run longer than most kids because they don’t eat as many vegetables as I do,” says Adah.
What steps can you take?
Experts suggest a balanced combination of:
- Lean proteins
- Healthy fats
- Nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables
Exactly what an athlete should eat, and how often, depends on the individual, how long they play or practice, and other factors like weather conditions.
There are other helpful tips to remember:
- When your young athlete is active for more than an hour, offer carbohydrates (like fruits and grains) for extra fuel.
- Pay close attention to what you feed your child before, during, and after they train.
- Experiment with snacks and meals to learn what works best.
- For more personalized recommendations, schedule an appointment with a Kaiser Permanente dietitian.
Many resources are available to help parents figure out the best foods for their children, but sometimes it comes down to keeping things simple.
“Common sense can take you a long way,” says Betsy Paganucci, a health educator and dietitian at Kaiser Permanente. “Just trust your instincts.”
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