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Youth Sports Nutrition - 10 Quick Tips for Active Teens

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From NutritionforKids.Com – Connie Evers, MS,RD

  • To achieve more in the classroom and on the playing field, find time for breakfast every day. In a hurry? Eat breakfast at SCHOOL (It's cool! Really!) or choose a quick-grab food on your way out the door such as a bagel, English muffin, yogurt, banana, sandwich or leftover pizza.
  • Busy teens need more than three meals a day. Find time for healthful snacks that will keep you going. Before practice or exercise, eat a light carbohydrate snack such as a piece of fruit or a bag of pretzels.
  • The nutrient of most immediate concern is WATER! Drink at least 8 cups of fluid each day. When exercising, drink before, during, and after a workout!
  • The best way to get all the nutrients each day is to eat according to the Food Guide Pyramid. The pyramid recommends 6-11 servings of grains, 2-4 servings fruit, 3-5 servings vegetables, 2-3 servings dairy, and 2-3 servings of lean protein foods. Extras such as candy, pop, and butter should be eaten in smaller amounts.
  • Complex carbohydrates are the best kind of fuel for exercise or sports. Fruits, vegetables, rice, pasta, beans, bread, bagels and tortillas are all good sources.
  • Over half of your body is protein! Protein is important for growing teen athletes because it is made up of amino acids, the building blocks that form new body tissue such as muscle. Lowfat dairy products, eggs, beans, tofu, lean meat, chicken, turkey and fish are excellent sources of protein.
  • A diet high in fat will weigh you down, especially right before exercise. Fat takes longer to digest than carbohydrate or protein, so avoid greasy foods before practice or games.
  • Be sure to replenish your body after a workout. Give yourself plenty of fluids and a nutritious snack such as a sandwich, bean burrito, or a large bowl of cereal.
  • Celebrating after the big game? Serve food such as vegetable pizza, pretzels, popcorn, lowfat cheese and crackers, fruit juice seltzers and oatmeal cookies at the post-game party.
  • Even big-name athletes recognize the importance of good nutrition. Training tables across the country have switched from high fat steak wrapped in bacon to carbohydrate-rich pasta and rice.

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