Fueling up: How to help your young athlete make healthy choices

When kids play team sports, it helps them develop both physical skills on the field or in the pool and social skills among their teammates. Kids learn teamwork, turn taking, and how to deal with the highs and lows of competition- all while increasing their daily physical activity!

But parents may want to pay attention to what kids are eating on the sidelines, according to a recent study. Researchers found that kids who play sports are more likely to eat fast food, drink soda and consume more total calories. Active kids need energy, but it’s important to make sure that they get their energy from healthy sources. Salty snacks or sugary drinks can slow kids down and work against the health benefits they get by being active.

The study shared some good news too; youth involved in sports were also more likely to consume fruits, vegetables, and milk! Eating right can help your kids perform at their best and prevent injuries. To make sure that your child is fueling properly before, during, and after a sporting event, follow the tips below:

  • Fuel up with oatmeal. Oats provide carbohydrates that help young athletes fuel their muscles. Encourage your child to eat a bowl in the morning before a sporting event.
  • Slice oranges for a refreshing sideline treat. Citrus fruits have high water content that will keep your child hydrated on warm days.
  • Drink water before, during, and after. Forget sugary sports drinks for games or practices that last an hour or less. Drinking water is best and will prevent your child from consuming added sugar.
  • Snack on bananas after practice. They are packed with potassium, which helps maintain the body’s water balance and prevent muscle cramping.
  • Refuel with chocolate milk. It is known as one of the best “recovery drinks” after a tough practice or game. The balance of carbohydrates (from chocolate) and protein (from milk) is perfect for refueling tired muscles.

What’s your child’s favorite healthy snack before or after a sporting event? Share with us in the comments below!

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