Fueling the Young Athlete


As parents, it is crucial that we help our young athletes understand that eating properly for their sport is as important as showing up for the workout. If they do not eat properly, their bodies will not perform at full potential. They will have less energy than their peers, and will be more likely to get sick.

As a parent, feeding your child properly can seem like a full time job. Young developing athletes require high quality nutrients at the right times, in the right amounts. This can be especially challenging when feeding picky eaters, eating on the run, and influences of peer and media pressure.

Parents need to teach kids the fundamentals of eating right and how to make healthier choices. They need to learn from experience that healthy eating makes them feel better, and that foods they choose eat will impact how they feel later. For example, staying hydrated will improve the quality of a workout, and eating breakfast will prevent them from getting tired later in the day. Soon they will choose post-workout snacks that allow them to recover and grow stronger for their next practice. Once an athlete makes the connection that diet has a direct impact on how they feel and perform, they will be well on their way towards establishing the long-term habits necessary to leading a long and healthy life.

Here are some simple but important tips to keep in mind when fuelling your young athlete:

Start everyday with a healthy breakfast
Breakfast not only sets the stage for physical energy levels throughout the entire day, it also delivers much needed nutrients to the brain to allow for better mental focus, attention, reaction time, and muscle contraction.

Serve fruits and vegetables at every meal
Aim for 7-10 per day. Eating a range of colourful fruits and vegetables will provide your children with all the fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals necessary for health.

Encourage hydration throughout the day
Stay hydrated throughout the day with water.   Dehydration can cause muscle cramps and fatigue. Even mild dehydration affects performance.

Complex-carbohydrates are needed for energy
Complex carbohydrates are found in whole-wheat pasta, whole grain bread, whole grain cereal, brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruits and vegetables. These are important because they supply the body with glucose (blood sugar) for energy. Extra glucose is stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen. During short bursts of exercise the body primarily uses glycogen for energy. If there is low glycogen, fatigue sets in which will affect athletic performance.

Provide protein for growth and repair
Protein is needed for the body to build and repair muscles. Small amounts of protein may also be used for energy. Eating it creates a lasting feeling of fullness and satiety. It helps to balance blood sugar throughout the day, and avoid mental fatigue.

Healthy fats are essential for brain function and balanced hormones
Fats are very important for young athletes as they provide nutrients for the developing brain. They help to stabilize mood and hormone balance and support mental capacity. Fat is also an important source of energy used to fuel longer distance exercise and endurance activities.



Thank you to Olympium Synchro for above article