Feeding Your Child Athleteenparentshttps://kidshealth.org/EN/images/headers/P-feedingAthlete-enHD-AR1.gifAll kids need to eat balanced meals and have a healthy diet. But should that balance change for kids who play on a sports team or work out?healthy lifestyles, balanced diets, cooking meals, sports teams, exercises, working out, game days, pediatric nutritionists, athletes, athletics, food guide pyramid, complex carbohydrates, nutrients, vitamins and minerals, running, swimming, track, football, basketball, tennis, lacrosse, field hockey, baseball, softball, physical education, gym classes, sports nutrition, dehydration, water, gatorade, sports drinks, electrolytes, sodium, potassium, soda, caffeine, fluid intake, sweating, thirsty, heatstroke, endurance sports, weight, eating disorders, anorexia, bulimia, fitness, sports medicine, general pediatrics, nutrition, CD1Sports Medicine, CD1Nutrition03/22/200003/22/202103/22/2021Mary L. Gavin, MD01/01/202146aeea06-5c13-4fc9-b222-dc7a939a327bhttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/feed-child-athlete.html/<p>Healthy, well-balanced meals and <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/snacking.html/">snacks</a> give kids the nutrients they need to do well in <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/sports-competition.html/">sports</a>. Besides getting the right amount of calories, eating a variety of nutritious foods will help them play at their best.</p> <h3>Nutritional Needs of Young Athletes</h3> <p>Active, athletic kids and teens need:</p> <ul class="kh_longline_list"> <li><strong>Vitamins and minerals:</strong> Kids need a variety of vitamins and minerals. Calcium and iron are two important minerals for athletes: <ul> <li><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/calcium.html/">Calcium</a> helps build <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/strong-bones.html/">strong bones</a> to resist breaking and <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/stress-fractures.html/">stress fractures</a>. Calcium-rich foods include low-fat dairy products like <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/start-skim-milk.html/">milk</a>, yogurt, and cheese, as well as leafy green vegetables such as broccoli.</li> <li><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/iron.html/">Iron</a> helps carry oxygen to all the different body parts that need it. Iron-rich foods include lean meat, chicken, tuna, salmon, eggs, dried fruits, leafy green vegetables, and fortified whole grains.</li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>Protein:</strong> Protein helps build and repair <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/bones-muscles-joints.html/">muscles</a>, and most kids get plenty of it through a balanced diet. Protein-rich foods include fish, lean meat and poultry, dairy products, beans, nuts, and soy products.</li> <li><strong><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/sugar.html/">Carbohydrates</a>:</strong> Carbs provide energy for the body and are an important source of fuel for a young athlete. Without carbs in their diet, kids will be running on empty. When choosing carbs, look for <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/fiber.html/">whole-grain</a> foods like whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, whole-grain bread and cereal, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.</li> </ul> <p>Most young athletes eat the right amount of food their bodies need. Some young athletes, though, have higher energy and fluid needs. All-day competitions or intense endurance sports (like rowing, cross-country <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/safety-running.html/">running</a>, or competitive swimming) can involve 1&frac12; to 2 hours or more of activity at a time. Kids and teens who do these may need to eat more food to keep up with increased energy demands.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.myplate.gov/">MyPlate food guide</a> offers tips on what kinds of foods and drinks to include in your child's meals and snacks.</p> <h3>Drink Up!</h3> <p>It's important for young athletes to drink plenty of fluids to prevent <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/dehydration.html/">dehydration</a>, which can zap strength, energy, and coordination and lead to <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/heat.html/">heat-related illness</a>. Even mild dehydration can affect athletic performance.</p> <p>Athletes can't rely on thirst to tell if they're getting dehydrated. Thirst is a sign that their body has needed liquids for a while. Kids should drink water before physical activity and every 15 to 20 minutes throughout. They also should drink water afterward to restore fluid lost through sweat.</p> <p>Many <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/power-drinks.html/">sports drinks</a> are available, but plain water is usually enough to keep kids hydrated. Kids should avoid sugary drinks and carbonated beverages that can upset the stomach. Sports drinks can be a good choice for kids who do intense physical activity for more than 1 hour.</p> <p>The bottom line is that for most young athletes, water is the best choice for hydration.</p> <h3>Pressures Facing Athletes</h3> <p>Some school-age athletes face pressures involving nutrition and body weight. In some sports, it's common for kids to feel they need to increase or reduce their weight to reach peak performance.</p> <p>In sports that emphasize <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/childs-weight.html/">weight</a> or appearance, such as <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/safety-wrestling.html/">wrestling</a>, swimming, dance, or gymnastics, kids may feel pressure to lose weight. Because athletic kids need extra fuel, it's usually not a good idea for them to diet. Unhealthy eating habits, like crash dieting, can leave kids with less strength and endurance and poor concentration.</p> <p>When kids try to increase their weight too fast for sports where size matters, such as <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/safety-football.html/">football</a> or <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/safety-hockey.html/">hockey</a>, their performance may also suffer. When a person overeats, the food the body can't use right away gets stored as fat. As a result, kids who overeat may <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/overweight-obesity.html/">gain weight</a>, not muscle.</p> <p>If a coach, gym teacher, or teammate says that your child needs to lose or gain weight, or if you're concerned about your child's eating habits, talk to your doctor. The doctor can work with you or refer you to a dietitian to develop a <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/habits.html/">healthy eating</a> plan for your young athlete.</p> <h3>Game Day</h3> <p>Kids need to eat well on game days. The meal itself should not be very different from what they've eaten throughout training. Athletes can choose healthy foods they believe enhance their performance and don't cause any problems like stomach upset.</p> <p>Here are some general guidelines:</p> <ul class="kh_longline_list"> <li>A meal 3 to 4 hours before activity should have plenty of carbs and some protein but be low in fat. Fat takes longer to digest, which can cause an upset stomach. Carbs could include pasta, bread, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid sugary foods and drinks.</li> <li>If kids eat less than 3 hours before a game or practice, serve a lighter meal or snack that includes easy-to-digest carb-containing foods, such as fruit, crackers, or bread.</li> <li>After the game or event, experts recommend eating within 30 minutes after intense activity and again 2 hours later. The body will be rebuilding muscle and replenishing energy stores and fluids. Kids should continue to hydrate and eat a balance of lean protein and carbs.</li> </ul> <p>Athletes need to eat the right amount and mix of foods to support their higher level of activity. But that mix might not be too different from a normal healthy diet. Eating for sports should be another part of healthy eating for life.</p>Cómo alimentar a un joven deportista Todos los niños necesitan un dieta equilibrada y sana. Pero, ¿debería ser la dierta diferente para los niños que juegan en un equipo deportivo o hacen ejercicio fisico?https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/es/parents/feed-child-athlete-esp.html/cf65d346-c4a3-461f-a610-0be43edafcc0
A Guide to Eating for SportsYou've prepared for the game in almost every way possible: but now what should you eat? Read about performance foods, nutritional supplements, and more.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/eatnrun.html/583958da-66d4-42bc-acec-95d393a00390
CalciumMilk and other calcium-rich foods help build strong, healthy bones. But most kids and teens don't get enough calcium. Here's how to make sure that yours do.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/calcium.html/5f5a41cc-5bcd-48de-ae3b-beae69d5eceb
Carbohydrates and SugarCarbs are the body's most important and readily available source of energy. The key is to eat healthy ones, like whole grains, and avoid foods with added sugar.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/sugar.html/c44f9eb8-dc91-44fe-bd39-89d25c0715b8
Competitive Sports: Helping Kids Play it CoolSometimes the pressure to succeed on the field or in the court can be overwhelming. Learn what you can do to help your child keeps things in perspective.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/sports-competition.html/c093cf88-08b3-4f3c-a6c7-7676515aeadb
Compulsive ExerciseEven though exercise has many positive benefits, too much can be harmful. Teens who exercise compulsively are at risk for both physical and psychological problems.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/compulsive-exercise.html/57728848-9e48-4724-8268-8faa34c0e1c9
DehydrationDehydration is when the amount of water in the body has dropped too low. Read about what causes dehydration, what it does to your body, and how to prevent it.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/dehydration.html/4dbb09f6-59a5-4398-a00e-944efd28f3d3
Go, Slow, and Whoa! A Kid's Guide to Eating RightWant to eat healthier? It's easy when you learn the difference between Go, Slow, and Whoa foods!https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/go-slow-whoa.html/4c5268e5-9901-4987-a37b-5c919be1fb2b
Healthy EatingGood nutrition and a balanced diet help kids grow up healthy. Here's how to improve nutrition and encourage smart eating habits.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/habits.html/429ff6f2-05a1-4593-a32b-4c6e4837e415
How Much Food Should I Eat?Lots of us don't realize we're eating too much because we've become so used to large portions. This article for teens helps you take control of your plate.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/portion-size.html/c51aa81e-aef0-4860-b4fe-2d436c8f0f84
Nutrition & Fitness CenterVisit our nutrition and fitness center for teens to get information and advice on food, exercise, and sports.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/center/fitness-nutrition-center.html/4e575d37-8408-47c1-bdcb-41197f1fd0eb
Preventing Children's Sports InjuriesParticipation in sports can teach kids sportsmanship and discipline. But sports also carry the potential for injury. Here's how to protect your kids.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/sports-safety.html/bec4e82b-c8b0-4945-9611-7c9464e177f8
Signing Kids Up for SportsOrganized sports can help kids grow in many ways. Consider your child's age, personality, and abilities to help make sports fun.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/signing-sports.html/10a69d2b-5c2a-4cf0-8f82-a1d61a7e3115
Sports CenterThis site has tips on things like preparing for a new season, handling sports pressure, staying motivated, and dealing with injuries.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/center/sports-center.html/c6fa6931-7439-4e86-9613-99545f761388
Sports Drinks and Energy DrinksWhen it comes to keeping your kid hydrated, there's a dizzying array of drinks to choose from. Are sports and energy drinks right for your child?https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/power-drinks.html/bce056a3-c37f-47f8-9c79-ebb2ddb5d45a
Sports Medicine CenterGet tips on everything from finding the best sport for your kids to preventing and handling injuries.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/center/sports-center.html/9c890cb1-5179-4d0e-9f3e-c00b34e8469a
Sports PhysicalsJust as professional sports stars need medical care to keep them playing their best, so do student athletes. That's why it's important to get a sports physical.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/sports-physicals.html/ee98a07c-236a-4a5d-a10f-47ece0074f7a
Sports SupplementsSports supplements are products used to enhance athletic performance. But there aren't enough long-term studies to know if they're safe for teens.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/sports-supplements.html/3f310f53-9c7c-45b3-8ca3-28e9333ce49e
Vitamins and MineralsVitamins and minerals are nutrients that the body needs to work properly. They boost the immune system, promote normal growth and development, and help cells and organs do their jobs.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/vitamins-minerals.html/7db5e5be-3935-4119-b49b-bb2e8a5ba349
Why Drinking Water Is the Way to GoAll living things need water to survive. Find out more in this article for kids.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/water.html/123840bc-5b6c-441c-9e71-ed8b07d5a8a3
kh:age-bigKidSixToTwelvekh:age-teenThirteenToNineteenkh:clinicalDesignation-gastroenterologyAndNutritionWeightManagementkh:genre-articlekh:primaryClinicalDesignation-gastroenterologyAndNutritionWeightManagementTraining & Performancehttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/sports-medicine-center/training/958538d4-c43c-4e83-af74-05d1be169b87Smart Food Choiceshttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/homework/school-food/8710a83f-4e4e-4695-b777-7039b3aec0baSpecial Dietary Needshttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/nutrition-center/dietary-needs/c64057a7-a2a9-4dac-a646-104e43dba152