Teen Athlete Nutrition – Topic 1 – Food Categories
For teen athletes processed food has become the norm for go-to snacks and meals. The schedules are crazy and parents are doing their best to “just get something in them.”
Food choice is very important for teens in general. The amount of growth and development that happens in the ‘tween and teen years is astounding, and without the proper nutrients that growth can be very trying on all people involved😉
Without proper nutrition good quality sleep is difficult to achieve, mood swings are more common, for girls the menstrual cycle can been more painful, focus and motivation can be lacking. Many symptoms of ADD and ADHD can be helped with a consistent and whole foods based diet.
This is probably one of the best food pyramid/food plate info graphics I’ve seen to date!
Vegetables are the biggest group and very well should be. There is so much nutrition packed in. You get water, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Some even provide calcium and protein. You should strive to get 2-3 varieties in at EACH meal. YES I SAID IT! Every meal should have vegetables involved and at least one should be in its raw form for you to get the most benefit.
Fruits are next. I use fruits in my home as desserts. They are delicious, provide nutrients and (without extra sugar added) can tame your sweet tooth! With that said they do contain sugar and even though it is good sugar, you can still get too much. I would also like to clarify that I am talking about whole fruits here, no juice or fruit-flavored things. I would even keep dried fruit to a minimum. Once the fruit has been processed, even with dehydration, it is now missing a component that makes it digest properly in your system giving you a sugar concentrate without any of the nutrients to help your body deal with and digest it. I would stick with 2 servings on non-workout days and no more than 4 servings on workout days.
Whole Grains are next on the list. Despite the no-carb fad. Whole grains can be good for you, especially as an athlete. The key here is moderation and timing. The carbohydrates can provide a quick energy source for your body, but again, too much just causes issues for your body. if you don’t burn the carbs they get sfored as adipose tissue (the jiggly fat no one likes)😝
Fats are another good group that has had an unfortunate history. There are good fats and bad fats, but the good ones are imperative to brain development, organ function and fuel for the body.
Legumes and lean meats are the best protein source. Plant based proteins are easier for the body to digest and therefore great for immediately after a long workout or event. Lean meats such as chicken and fish are also great for muscle recovery and help with increasing muscle mass.
I will elaborate more next time!! ‘Til then happy healthy eating!!!