Our basics for our young athletes;
- Eat 4-6 meals each day
- Your meals should be 300-500 calories each
- You need protein in each meal
- Drink water all day, no caffeine during your training season
- Examples of meals
Even if you have workouts in the morning, you MUST have breakfast. You cannot go 10-12 hours with out food overnight and expect your body to perform in the morning without more fuel. For a noon practice, you should have eaten at least twice; a 3:00 practice eat at least three times and an evening practice eat at least 4-5 times. After your last practice make sure to get one additional meal to help with recovery and rebuilding.
Now with the basics regarding how many meals, it is important that you understand the body does not need more than 300-500 calories in each meal. By eating 4-6 meals a day they will have at least 2000 calories to 3000 calories depending on the size of your child. This will give them plenty of calories to get through workouts as well as meet the needs of a growing body.
Protein is an essential part of an athletes meal. Most athletes do not get enough protein in their meals. An example of this is breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day. It sets the tone. Generally cereal, waffles or a breakfast bar is the meal of choice, not mine but the general rule. Those foods are primarily carbohydrates, which are important, but without a balance of protein, their blood sugars will rise too high and then drop, just about the time they need it either for a morning workout or in school. So, what we recommend is having two hard boiled egg whites, not yolk, with their cereal, this will add an additional 8-10 grams of protein to their breakfast. Generally speaking most kids need 10-20 grams of protein in each meal, no more than 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. Now before you get alarmed about the amount of protein for your young athlete, let’s break it down. If a 100 pound athlete has 80 grams of protein a day that is still less than 20% of their total calories if they follow our guidelines. 2000 calories a day (400 calories per meal 5 meals a day) 80 grams of protein at 4 calories per gram equals 320. A larger athlete follows the same guidelines. We generally do not exceed 15-20% of total calories a day of protein.
1 gram of protein equals 4 calories
1 gram of carbohydrate equals 4 calories
1 gram of fat equals 9 calories
We must read our labels!
I don’t want the kids to become obsessed with calories and labels, but they must be educated to proper eating, so it becomes a habit.
I am not saying they can never have a hamburger or pizza, but it cannot be a daily part of their diet. If they learn these habits now, they will have much more energy for the day, their workouts and schoolwork.
Water is a must. Everything they eat and drink counts during the meal. Juice is fine, but I prefer calories form food sources. In the heat of this time of year especially, water is a must all day long. Muscles get dehydrated, from caffeine (high energy drinks, soda, coffee and tea) and more likely to shut down or rip. Water consumption must start early each day, not just before practice. Water breaks must happen every 15 minutes of practice and game, depending on the activity level. I actually prefer sports drinks during practices and games rather than just water, because their sugar levels in their bodies drop too much during the activity. If they are hydrating properly during the day and eating enough, the sports drinks are fine. They have way too much sugar for playing video games, but the game or practice will expend an average of 600-900 calories, drink the sports drinks. After the game or practice, chocolate milk is the drink of choice for recovery. It has a great balance of protein and carbohydrates.
Protein shakes are a great way to get protein in a busy day. The first choice should be with regular food sources, but when the schedule is tight, go for the shake. Do not get the powders with creatine and other supplements in them. We are just trying to get the protein the body needs to grow and recover.
I know this is a lot of information, but with the importance of the message, it is important the kids and parents get the big picture.
Here are some examples of foods that should be consumed during the day.
Mix two scoops of a whey protein in with a pancake mix, the normal pancake is 160 calories with no protein, now with two scoops of protein powder, that one pancake has an additional 10 grams of protein. Keep the syrup to a minimum.
Eat two hard boiled egg whites with their high fiber cereal and a glass of milk.
A banana with a handful of nuts OR Half a peanut butter sandwich and a piece of fruit
Chicken breast with pasta and vegetables OR Turkey or tuna on a salad
A protein shake with milk and fruit OR Yogurt
Meat Lasagna (wheat pasta) OR Chicken Breast with vegetables
Do not take a protein shake with milk and ice cream just before practice. The heat will cause you to get sick!
Strength of America, Inc