Teens need a lot of nutrition. They are still in their formative years. Bones are still growing and they need nutrients. If your teen is active in organized sports or just playing outside with friends, they will need even more nutrients than a sedentary teen.
When kids play, nutrition becomes even more important than it was before. For instance, the body needs carbohydrates for fuel. It is your long-term fuel source each day. By eating more carbs in the morning and afternoon, you are providing your body with energy for that after-school game or long bike ride.
Proteins are the building blocks in the body. They compose the muscles, cells, blood, tissues and other portions of your body structure. Using these muscles in practice and weight training makes them strong enough to hold up to prolonged periods of high exertion.
Fats are also important for brain function and to maintain the integrity of the individual cells. A little bit of fat is okay and will cushion joints which can get injured in sporting activities.
Before you ramp up for the game, make sure that your teen eats a meal at least two hours beforehand. Include carbs to feed the body and protein to feed the muscles. Don’t forget lots of fluids to keep the body hydrated and functioning properly.
When your teen is out on the field, keeping up their carbohydrate load is important. Carry whole grain snacks and fruits with you for energy when you notice them waning in their performance.
What happens after a long game? Your teen may be noticeably sweating. This means that they have lost a lot of water. If their sweat is salty, then they have lost electrolytes as well. People question using sports drinks, but they can replenish electrolytes faster when they need them most. Choose low-calorie, high-electrolyte options.
The muscles are also spent. There is a build-up of lactic acid in the muscles that can lead to cramps. You need to put back the protein that was used. Try to choose complete sources of protein to give your body all the amino acids it needs to function and repair the muscles.
Good post play snacks include peanut butter, fruit, fat-free milk, lean protein, veggies, whole grains and pasta. Your kid may not feel like eating pasta so try a turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato. Give them something that they can carry easily like sliced fruit or bagels or sandwiches.