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What You Should Know About Feeding Your Child Athlete

Learn how to account for your student athlete’s increased activity level by learning the basics of nutrition. Ensuring that your child receives a balanced and nutritious diet is essential if you want them to perform at their best.

I recently had a conversation with an old friend who was a very talented, All-American high-school baseball player. Now in his mid 30's, he is fanatical about the way he eats and is a huge advocate for consuming a diet that is rich with fresh, organic vegetables and lean protein. Having grown up in a home where nutrition was not a priority, he wondered how his athletic performance may have been negatively affected as a growing adolescent. “Knowing what I know now, I wonder what a difference it would have made if my dad had fed me chicken breast and a kale salad after practice instead of getting me a Big Mac Meal from McDonald’s,” he said. This made me wonder: How many other parents out there are clueless about what their child athlete should be eating?

In order to maximize your child’s performance in sports, familiarize yourself with the following bullet-list of basic concepts in nutrition:

NUTRIENT CLASSIFICATION OF FOOD: * Carbohydrate * Fat * Protein * Vitamins * Minerals * Water

CARBOHYDRATES (CHO)- referred to as “Carbs” * Examples: Bread, Rice, Pasta, Cereal, Vegetables, Fruit, Sugar * Primary energy source * 55-60 percent of intake * Athletes need 5-13g/kg of body wt./day * Glycemic index should be factored in * Carb loading * Carb feedings pre & post exercise

FAT * Examples: Butter, margarine, oils, fat found in meat, nuts, dairy products and avocadoes * Plays a major role in cardiovascular disease * Primary energy source * Shouldn’t exceed 35 percent of intake * Steroid hormones come from cholesterol * Helps maintain body heat (insulation) * Recommended intake for athletes is debatable

PROTEIN * Examples: Beef, Pork, Poultry, Fish, Beans, Legumes, Nuts * Building blocks of the body * Essential for muscle growth and repair * Contains essential and non-essential amino acids * Men generally require more due to higher muscle mass * Athletes can benefit from increased intake

VITAMINS * Promote growth and maintain health * B-Complex * Vitamin C * Vitamin E

MINERALS * Essential for normal cellular functions * Electrolytes * Macrominerals * Microminerals * Trace elements

-Calcium, Phosphorous, Iron, Sodium, Potassium, Chloride

WATER * Essential for life and functioning * Critical for performance

Now that you know the basic components of a healthy diet, build on this foundation by continuing to educate yourself on more advanced nutritional concepts. If this is your first time attempting to provide your family with balanced meals, give yourself time to get it right. Stay focused, don’t give up, and you will reach your goal of providing your growing athlete with the best nutrition possible.

Wishing you Health and Happiness,

Honey Baby Naturals

Contributor: Ross Lowe Media

child athlete

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