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Young athletes: Eat like a champion


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April 17, 2014
Q. Can you provide nutrition and hydration tips for children participating in sports?

A. Proper nutrition and hydration are essential in optimizing a student athlete's performance. An athlete who does not have enough nutrients or liquids to prepare for competition can be at risk of developing serious medical issues such as dehydration.

Here are a few tips on proper nutrition and hydration for the student athlete:

Eat like a champion. Eat a balanced breakfast and a variety of high-quality foods throughout the day containing a varied combination of complex carbohydrates, protein and fat.

Consume the calories you need based on the physical activity you perform.

During training, add the extra calories burned during a session to your typical caloric intake to maintain your weight and appropriate energy level. For example, if your typical intake is 2,200 calories per day and you play basketball for one hour, burning approximately 500 calories per hour, eat 2,700 calories on that day.

The pre-game meal should be eaten at least two hours before an event.

Eat a well balanced meal containing 75-200 grams of carbohydrates to help fuel performance.

Consume a small snack if you are hungry about 30 minutes before competition containing between 20 grams of easily digested carbohydrates.

The post-exercise meal should contain about 150 -200 grams of carbohydrates to help the body recover and prepare for the next training.

Get the recommended fluid intake.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents and coaches need to be sure children drink plenty of fluids before and during exercise. A good starting point is about four to eight ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes. Fruit juices and soda should be avoided since they contain too much sugar.

Avoid drinking too much.

Most parents and athletes worry about dehydration when competing in sports. However, water intoxication, can occur as a result of drinking too much water. To prevent this problem, an endurance athlete should drink a sodium containing sports drink for any high intensity event where they are participating without a break for more than 60 to 90 minutes.

Kalra, orthopedic surgeon at Children's Hospital of Michigan, is dual fellowship trained in pediatric orthopedics and orthopedic sports medicine. For further information call (313) 745-KIDS or visit childrensdmc.org/orthopedics . DMC Children's Hospital.

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