If you have a young athlete in your home it is likely that you make many trips to the grocery store just trying to match their growing appetites.  However, just as important as how much your teen athlete eats is also what types of foods they eat.

While snack foods and quick meals are enticing to young athletes on the go, there are a few tips for insuring that you child is getting the nutrition they need to perform their best.

Daily Food Servings for Young Athletes:

  • Protein: focus on lean meats including poultry, fish, and eggs. Aim for 2-3 daily servings.
  • Dairy Products: calcium is important for growing bones to stay strong. Fill up with 3-4 servings of milk, yogurt or cheese a day.
  • Carbohydrates: this is where your active teen will really fuel up. As many as 11 servings a day are okay just try to stick to healthy carbs like wheat pasta, healthy rice, breads and cereal.
  • Fruits and Veggies: try a mix of fruits and vegetables, whole, as well as juices. Aim for 5-9 servings daily.

If your young athlete is still hungry after eating all of this food throughout the day it is perfectly okay to supplement his or her diet with energy bars and other performance related snacks. Encourage your child to stay away from empty calories and foods high in fat and instead focus on granola, proteins and foods high in natural calories such as fruit.

Just as important as a healthy diet, so is fluid intake.  You and your child both need about 8 cups of water a day – without working out. If your child is an athlete and frequently sweating even more hydration is necessary. Encourage your child to drink a bottle of water before a workout, to drink during practices and games and to drink a bottle of water after every workout. Juices and performance beverages are also good choices for supplementing your child’s hydration during athletic events and training.