What are some important tips and tricks about nutrition for kids playing sport - here are some great, simple ideas to help ensure your kid, and their team is training, recovering and performing to the best of their abilities!
It’s no secret that the food and fluid we consume greatly affects our ability to train, play and recover well. Not only does food provide our muscles with fuel, it also provides key nutrients for growth, recovery, cognition (our ability to think well and make decisions) and our immune system.
In considering nutrtion for kids playing sport, here we will focus on what the most beneficial pre-game foods and snacks are to maximise energy and performance! The main nutrient we want to focus on for fueling performance is carbohydrates. The majority of carbohydrates should come from nutrient-rich foods, such as:
- Grains and cereals(rolled oats, quinoa, breads, wraps, crackers, rice, pasta, noodles,etc.)
- Fruit (all fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruit, fruit and grain bars, 100% fruit juice, etc.)
- Vegetables and legumes(potato, corn, sweet potato, baked beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.)
- Dairy products(plain and flavoured milks, yoghurt, fortified non-dairy products, etc.)
- Extras - carbohydrate snacks(muesli bars, fruit buns, fruit loaf, smoothies, banana/carrot cake, etc.)
Typically, our first opportunity to fuel for our games starts with breakfast. If you are having a mid-morning game you should be aiming to have breakfast around 2-3 hours before start time. Focus on getting a good source of carbohydrate, some protein and of course, remember to hydrate!
Some good game day breakfast options include:
- Porridge with apple and cinnamon
- Bircher muesli with yogurt and fruit
- Toast with eggs/ baked beans/ avocado
- Yogurt with fruit and muesli
- Smoothie with toast
- English muffin with eggs, bacon and avocado
- Weet-bix with milk, yogurt, fruit and honey
If there is more than 3 hours between breakfast and kick-off it is important that we keep our carbohydrate stores topped up and include a carbohydrate-rich snack 30 minutes to an hour before the game starts. Whilst proteins and fats also play an important role in our diet we want to minimise our intakes of foods high in these nutrients close to training and games as they take longer to digest and sit in the stomach which may cause uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms.
Some high performance snacks include:
- 1-2 slices of toast with jam, honey or vegemite
- Crumpets, english muffins or fruit buns with jam, honey or vegemite
- Breakfast cereal with milk
- Muesli bars
- Pita chips, pretzels or crackers
- Corn thins with vegemite or thin layer of peanut butter
- Trail mix
- Dried fruit
- Juice poppers
- Flavoured milk
- Sports drinks
If you struggle to get your child to eat around games using sports drinks, fruit juice and flavoured meals are great options that are easy to digest when dealing with game-day nerves and anxiety.
This article has been written by Tessa Funk, Dietician at Physiologix. If you have any more questions about nutrition for kids playing sport or surrounding games please don’t hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0402 234 478!