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Student athletes need good nutrition to fuel their performance

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In order to help student athletes stay healthy and perform well good nutrition should be stressed.

In order to help student athletes maintain good health and perform well there should be an emphasis on good nutrition. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center reports that young athletes can be helped both when they are playing sports and in their everyday lives with good eating habits.

Chris Ina, M.A., A.T.C., who is the athletic training coordinator in sports medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, says that one healthy meal just prior to sports competition cannot compensate for poor daily nutrition.

Ina says that aside from eating balanced meals it is important for young sports players to time their eating properly. Adequate time must be allowed for good digestion and absorption of the nutrients which are necessary as fuel for good performance.

It has been suggested by Ina that more carbohydrates than normal should be eaten for several days just before competition. The body uses carbohydrates as stored energy. Peanut butter, whole-grain pasta, plain, baked potatoes, and whole-grain bread and cereal which is not sugar-coated are good choices for carbohydrates.

In order to prevent cramping just a little snack of about 200 calories or less which is low in fat, protein and fiber is suggested about an hour before the sporting event. When a large meal of greater than 400 calories is consumed it may take up to four hours to be digested completely.

It is advisable to eat within two hours after exercise. Simple high protein options which do not cost a lot of money such as yogurt, a glass of chocolate milk or a smoothie to assist in repairing muscles are good ideas.

It’s a good idea to eat right away after you wake up to give a jump start to your metabolism in order to help your body produce energy during the day. A sports drink, high carbohydrate sports bar or granola bar are good options for a pre-workout snack.

Fried or greasy foods such as cheeseburgers and french fries should be avoided. These foods can result in feeling sluggish and tired. This is because the body has to work extra hard to break down and digest the fat in these unhealthy foods.

It has been suggested in KidsHealth that a really good breakfast for young athletes might include low-fat yogurt with granola and a banana. Whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk and strawberries is also a good idea.

For lunch a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread and fruit is a good idea. Bean burritos with low-fat cheese along with lettuce and tomatoes is also a good choice.

Pasta with red sauce with lean ground beef and a salad is a tasty idea for dinner. Grilled chicken breasts with steamed rice and vegetables is also suggested.

In between meals healthy snacks are a good idea. Raisins, pretzels, crackers, vegetables, fruit and string cheese are good ideas.

Remember to help kids stay healthy and perform well in sports good nutrition is essential. A solid nutritional foundation consists of good meals and snacks daily. It should always be remembered that the energy needs for the sustained physical exertion needed to play competitive sports are higher than for normal daily activities.

Dr Harold Mandel

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