Nutrition & Kids in Sport

 

When you play sport you make sure you have all the right equipment you need. This should include the right foods and drinks.

 

Eating before and after exercise

If you’re playing sport or doing exercise it’s important to eat before hand to make sure your body has enough energy to perform. This is especially important if you’re working really hard and doing intense activity and is just as important for light exercise so make sure you have eaten within the past 3 hours.

It’s best to have a carbohydrate containing food before exercise as this is the main fuel source for your muscles.

Eating after you finish exercise is just as important as before. Your body needs more energy to recover and replace what you’ve used. Try to include protein (see below) as well as carbs (fruits, vegetables & wholegrains) in these snacks, to make sure your muscles recover.

Don’t skip breakfast

When you wake up in the morning your body is hungry! You haven’t eaten for around 10 hours, so your body has used up a lot of it’s energy stores just to get you through the night. Skipping breakfast can affect your body’s performance for the rest of the day.

 

Hydration

Water is essential for your body. It keeps you cool, helps with digestion and gets rid of wastes products. Water is lost through sweat, breathing and urination and if it’s not replaced the body can become dehydrated which means you won’t perform well.

Dehydration can cause:

  • Headaches
  • Poor concentration
  • Tiredness
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Cracked lips

During exercise we sweat more than usual, so we need to drink even more water to replace what is lost. Make sure you drink water before, during and after your sports, don’t wait until you’re thirsty. It is particularly important that stay hydrated in hot environments.

 

Sports Drinks

Sports drinks such as Powerade and Gatorade are drinks made up of water with added sugars and electrolytes (salts and minerals). These drinks can help rehydrate and reenergise you, but they’re not really necessary unless you’re doing sports for longer than 90 minutes, however water and a bit of fruit is still a better choice! You’ll get your hydration from the water and energy from the fruit.

 

Protein

Proteins are the building blocks of your muscles so eating a healthy balanced diet that includes the following protein foods regularly is enough to make and keep your muscles strong, and your body healthy:

  • Lean meat and poultry
  • Fish and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Dairy (milk, yoghurt and cheese)
  • Legumes (chick peas, lentils and beans)
  • Nuts

Try to include a protein food in each snack and main meal of your day for example;

  • Milk in cereal
  • Eggs on toast
  • Cheese on crackers
  • Tuna or ham on sandwiches
  • Nuts with afternoon tea
  • Meat with three veg for dinner

 

*5-18 year olds should aim for 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day.