Young Athletes Nutrition – Supporting Performance And Growth

Young athletes nutrition should be geared toward physical growth and development not athletic performance. Although parents want their children to lead healthy lifestyles that include physical activities, the emphasis on physical performance is often at the expense of good nutrition, which is even more crucial during childhood. The consequences of focusing on athletic performance at the expense of the growth and development needs of the child can result in consequences of chronic low energy intake which results in:

• Children with short stature and delayed puberty

• Nutrient deficiencies and dehydration

• Menstrual irregularities in girls

• Development of poor bone health

• Increased incidence of athletic injuries

• An increased risk of developing eating disorders

The energy demands of physical growth and athletic training must be understood by both parent and child. Often both the parent and child need assistance in planning meals and snacks to meet both of those needs. Similar to adults who exercise or who are athletes, young people should have nutritious meals and snacks before and after exercise. The young ones should take snacks with them such as fruit, pretzels, yogurt, cereal bars, dry cereal, sandwiches, milk, sports drinks, and water. Young athletes should drink sufficient fluids during the day and at practice and competition. Younger exercisers and athletes have a higher tolerance for exercising in the heat which puts them at a greater risk for heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

The nutrition regimen of young athletes must support both their participation in physical activity such as sports and their continued physical and mental growth and development.

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For other information on nutrition some great references are:

• Nutrition – Fourth Edition by Paul Insel, Don Ross, Kimberley McMahon, and Melissa Bernstein

Exercise and Vitamins
Exercise Energy Systems
Nutrition and Exercise
Nutritional Supplements
Exercise Hydration Needs
Cooking and Nutrition
Nutrients In Food
Energy From Food
Vitamin B Complex
Water and Nutrition
Dietary Minerals
Cooking Recipes
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