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How to Feed Your Young Athlete, According to a Nutrition Expert

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Sports Nutrition

When kids are playing sports, they may have special nutrition needs. When we help them meet these needs, we help them play their best. This section is for children who are 6-10 and are intensely playing sports, training, or playing hard for long periods of time. We will provide a basic sports nutrition framework here for days when your child has an intense workout, such as a game. If your child has specialized needs, or if you would like a personalized assessment, we highly recommend working with a registered dietitian.

3-4 hours before the workout or training

Serve a meal with complex carbohydrates and some protein.

Meal examples:

·      Tuna sandwich, apple and milk

·      Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with banana and soy milk

·      Tacos with bean or meat filling, with toppings

·      Greek yogurt, berries and granola

·      Rice, lentils and eggs

·      Oatmeal, eggs and strawberries

·      Rice, beans, chicken and cooked carrots

Snack bar

30-60 minutes before the game or training

Serve a snack with simple carbohydrates.

Snack examples:

·      Banana, oranges, grapes, apple sauce or other fruit

·      A granola bar

·      Pretzels or crackers

·      Sports drink

Simple carbohydrate snacks can also be served during training.

15-60 minutes after the game or training

Serve a protein-rich snack and carbohydrates.

Snack examples:

·      Chocolate milk and nuts

·      Yogurt parfait with granola and fruit

·      String cheese, apples and pretzels

·      Apples and peanut butter 

For more post-workout snack options, see the protein-rich snacks section in our Snack Ebook.

Jennifer Anderson

Jennifer Anderson is a registered dietitian with a masters of science in public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is the founder and CEO of Kids Eat In Color - the world’s leading resource for helping get kids on the path to eating better without the mealtime battles.

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