Today's children often do not receive adequate nutritional instruction at home or at school, so sports is a great medium for sharing the information necessary to live a healthy and happy life.
Players should learn the best time to eat based on the activities they will engage in. For athletes, eating a small snack (100 calories) is a good idea about 30 minutes to 1 hour before activity. Larger snacks (200-300 calories), or meals (400+ calories), should be eaten farther out before activity. Larger snacks should be eaten two hours before activity and meals three hours before activity.
This allows the body to process food properly and reduces the risk of illness or negative effects, such as cramps, of unprocessed food. By eating at the proper times before exercise, players ensure that they are fueling their body appropriately for the work they will be doing.
After exercising, players should eat again. There is no rule for how quickly to eat after exercise, but eating soon after Promotes healthy regrowth of muscle and replenishes the body of vital nutrients, allowing the player to recover faster. A player's metabolism is elevated for several hours after exercise, so eating anytime during that is appropriate, although many nutritionists suggest eating within 60 to 90 minutes of activity. Eating during this period encourages the body to store nutrients as energy for muscles instead of as fat.
Now that you can educate players on when to eat, you also must know how to tell them what to eat. Before exercise, players need nutrition that is going to keep them full for a long time while providing them complex sugars to give them energy. Examples of good foods to provide complex sugars and slow breakdown are:
· Whole grains
· Energy bar
· Nutritional drink
· Low-fat yogurt
These foods provide carbohydrates, which increase the amount of stored energy in the athlete's muscles. Dairy products, such as low-fat milk or yogurt, break down slowly, releasing energy through the workout. This provides long-term power in a low-fat formula. Whole grains offer a similar benefit.
At the end of a practice, players should eat again, as discussed above. To promote the energy being stored as fuel for muscles and not as fat, players should eat a mix of carbohydrates and protein. Protein is necessary to rebuild muscles and promote quick recovery. Carbohydrates provide long energy and should make up the majority of the food eaten after exercise.
Protein should make up about 1/5 of the calories consumed after exercise. Athletes should consume between 300 and 400 calories within an hour of working out. Examples of good food choices for this period include:
· A bagel and 3 ounces of tuna fish
· Banana and low-fat yogurt
· 2 cups of cornflakes with raisins and 2 cups of skim milk
Players and parents need to be made aware of sports nutrition information prior to the season beginnning. If you are coaching a team, ensure to discuss nutrition during your pre-season parent meetings .