Teen Athlete Nutrition – Topic 2 – Food Timing

Food timing has been a hot topic for as long as I can remember.  Most people think of “game day” when they consider food timing, which is important, but timing your food on a daily basis can actually help your body prepare for your game day.  I actually found very little research available for basic food needs for teens/teen athletes. So here’s an average from a couple different sources as to what kids should be getting in on a daily basis.

So here’s my opinion; eating clean on a regular basis is the most important way to train your body to use the nutrients you give it.  Your body will learn to anticipate when you are going to feed it and your hunger mechanism will begin to function properly. 

Unfortunately, we  now have food available all the time and everywhere.  Food is packaged to last outside of a fridge, in our gym bags and backpacks. This has been a lifesaver for many a busy person, but we have come to rely on these products as food replacements so we don’t have to cook or because we are convinced we don’t have time to prepare food.  These products are loaded with preservatives (i.e.: sugar, sodium, and other unpronounceable ingredients) and many of the ingredients have been processed down so much we don’t actually get any nutritional value, causing us to reach for more food. We have, as a society, stopped listening to our internal “hunger clock.”  The problem with this is our body only begins digesting when we stop chewing food.  Our digestive system does not multitask, when the stomach is working the intestines are not, and it takes anywhere from 2-4 hours to digest a meal completely (everyone is different). So, if you start eating before the previous meal is done digesting, your body stops focusing on the intestines and moves back to the stomach, leaving the undigested food rotting on its own in your gut😖 that’s a pleasant picture isn’t it?!  

With this in mind, make sure that your regular snacks/meals are no closer together than about 2 hours.  If you feel hungry before that time try drinking water. When your body is dehydrated, it will do whatever it takes to get you to consume something with fluids to rehydrate.

Bottom line, get good food in every day! Train your body to crave good nutrient rich foods that will help with performance on and off the field.

As for game day, this includes days when you will be practicing or training for 2+ hours, you can load your body with energy that will give you your best performance and keep you from getting hangry after the game or practice.

4-5 hours before the event: heavy meal

  • Get in  whole grains, vegetables, a small amount of protein and good fats
  • Ex: whole grain pasta with roasted squash and sweet potato and 4 ounces of grilled chicken

2-4 hours before event: light meal

  • Small amount of whole grain carbs and raw veggies, protein and fruit
  • Ex: PBJ or turkey sandwich or a leafy green salad with kidney beans and tons of veggies with olive oil and salt and pepper

1/2 – 1 hour before event: light snack

  • Green and cruciferous  veggies (broccoli, cauliflower) and ranch dip ( DO NOT use low fat, there’s a ton of chemicals and sugar😡)

Post Event (within two hours): Recovery

  • Plant based proteins, these are easier to digest and help the muscles recover faster. Fruit to replace natural sugar stores and if the event lasted 2+ hours a sports drink or coconut water to replenish electrolytes.

It should go without saying that you should be getting water in with all of these meals.  A good rule of thumb is to get half your body weight in ounces everyday, just for basic life functions. Once you start adding in additional exercise you want to increase you water intake. I usually do about 12 ounces per hour of intense exercise.  Just remember to listen to your body and drink water when you are thirsty.  And to keep from feeling like you are drowning and peeing every five minutes😰 drink a couple sips of water every 10 minutes or so.

Remember to always check with your primary care doctor before making and major changes to your eating lifestyle!
Till next time!!


About Pure Energy Lifestyle

I am a Certified Massage Therapist, Certified Personal Trainer, Wife, and Mother of two incredibly active children. I am promoting a healthy and active lifestyle for all people at any stage of health

Posted on July 8, 2016, in Clean Eating, Food, Health, Pre- Post-Workout and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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