Sports Nutrition for Young Athletes

Sports Nutrition for Young Athletes

Kids need calories for activities of daily living, health, brainpower, and growth. Children involved in sports need extra fuel for their athletic activities as well. Choose foods that are nutrient-dense in order to boost performance and promote overall health.

Nutrient-Dense Foods

To ensure that children are properly fueled for athletics, encourage high-energy carbohydrates found in whole grain foods, fruit, vegetables and dairy foods. 

  • Start the day right with a healthy breakfast
    • Offer whole-grain cereal or muffins with fruit such as bananas, blueberries, or raisins
    • Try a yogurt parfait with layers of yogurt, granola or whole-grain cereal, and berries
  • Healthy breakfast when you’re on-the-go
    • If a sit-down breakfast is out of the question, pack a bagel with nut butter, apples, string cheese, individual yogurt cups, 100% juice boxes, and milk 
  • Don’t forget about snacks
    • For times when sporting events occur all day, be sure to pack snacks that travel well and will provide protein and carbs to keep energy stores up. Ideas include crackers and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail mix, fruit, and sliced veggies with dip. 

Hydration is Key

Staying well-hydrated is important for people of any age, especially those participating in outdoor activities. Fluids will not only prevent dehydration, they also prevent overheating and will flush out toxins produced by active muscles. Even the slightest hint of dehydration can negatively affect performance. 

  • Pack a large supply
    • For a normal day, children need at least six 8-ounce glasses of water. Add in an extra 8 ounces for every 30 minutes of activity. Label kids’ water bottles and pack them in backpacks and lunch boxes. Make sure that there are fluids available at school, in the car, and on the bus. 
  • Choose fluids wisely
    • If children are participating in activities lasting one hour or less, water is an acceptable fluid option. For activities lasting longer than one hour, or if children do not regularly drink enough water, 100% fruit juice (diluted with water) or a diluted sports drink may be a better choice. 
  • Do a quick urine check
    • A sign of proper hydration is regular trips to the bathroom with almost clear, odorless urine. If your child does not go to the bathroom often or it is darker in color, this is a sign that they need to increase their fluid intake.

Sports occur year-round so it’s never a bad time to re-evaluate what your kids are eating. If you have additional questions, I’d love for you to meet me for a nutrition consultation, FREE for every member of Elite Sports Clubs!

Schedule a Nutrition Consultation

Sarah Brunner Registered Dietician at Elite Sports Clubs

Written by Sarah Brunner, RDN, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian

Sarah is certified in food allergies/intolerances and nutritional counseling, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; has a certificate in Dietetics from Mount Mary University; and a BA in Education and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.