Important Food Groups for the Young Athlete

Diet and nutrition is one of the most important aspects not only for the athlete but for any young person. Unfortunately, there are many myths and miracle foods floating around, all with the promise of giving the young athlete the power to stand out above their peers. Most of this talk tends to fizzle out after a few months, and might leave your kid worse than they started. Here are some of the simplest yet most effective food groups that will no doubt be useful for the up and coming athlete:

Nuts and seeds

Every nut and seed is full of such nutrients as healthy fat, protein, fiber, magnesium and vitamin E. Basically, nuts and seeds are interchangeable, and might be useful substitutes for each other if the kid is allergic to any one of the two. They should ideally be used to top off yoghurt or cereal.

Ready to eat cereal

These are useful because they contain fortified nutrients like folic acid, iron, calcium and vitamins E and A. The kid can have it for breakfast, eat it as a snack or have a pinch of it at dinner. It is important to note, though, that cereals with too much sugar should generally be avoided. The best options are those that have between 8 and 9 grams of sugar.

Macro and micro nutrients

Macro-nutrients like proteins, fats and carbohydrates provide fuel for the intense physical activity that sports require. Carbohydrates are most important as they provide glucose used for energy. The most popular sources of carbohydrates include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk and sugar. Proteins help in the building and repair of muscle. Further, as the duration of exercise increases for the kid, they might also act as a source of energy. Poultry, lean meat, eggs, dairy products, beans and nuts are good sources of proteins. Kids also need fats, which come from such foods as candy, baked goods and fried foods. Micronutrients like calcium, vitamin D and iron are also important for the young athlete.

With the knowledge of what they need, meal planning, especially around important sporting events, becomes that much easier.

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