Sports Nutrition for the Teenager
Most of us have heard of terms like “carbohydrate-loading”, “endurance”, “fitness”, and “dehydration.” Nutritional supplements and sports drinks can be found in a wide variety all over. But what does it all mean when we think of our teen athletes and their nutritional needs? Proper nutrition is truly essential when it comes to enhancing sports performance.
Nutritional needs during adolescence include increased calorie needs in order to support the growing body. In addition to that teenagers need additional protein, calcium and iron. Protein is important for the growth and maintenance of muscle, which strengthen in an athletic body. Calcium is used by the body to build strong bones, which are growing at a rapid rate during adolescence. Without building up the calcium in the bones during these years, an individual can be at risk later in life for osteoporosis. Iron is needed to help the new muscle cells receive oxygen.
When teen athletes don’t eat enough or don’t eat properly, the body can break down in order to find the fuel it needs to perform. Therefore teens need to provide their bodies with a good fuel source. This fuel comes from food, but not just any food…well-balanced, healthy food will give the body the best kind of fuel for optimal athletic performance. Adequate calorie amounts will help the athlete stay strong and fast and achieve a peak level of performance.
The first rule for good sports nutrition is to eat three meals per day. Many teens skip breakfast but without that meal, often 1/3 of the daily calorie needs are lost. Or what often happens is that the skipped meal creates an overly hungry teen that then indulges in a high-calorie meal for lunch that is low in nutritional quality. So start the day with a good breakfast that includes foods from several food groups. Since most school sporting events occur after the school day, lunch may be the last opportunity for the athlete to fuel-up. However, a heavy lunch may not be the best idea, depending on the sport being played. The evening meal is equally important since it is here that the athlete can replenish the body’s fuel stores that were used up during the training or competition of the day.
Dehydration is a dangerous condition and can occur rapidly in an athlete. With warm weather, this danger can occur at a rapid rate. Prevention of dehydration needs to be a priority for all athletes. If the athlete is experiencing increased thirst, dehydration may have already begun. Dehydration definitely decreases sports performance. The effects of dehydration include decreased strength and endurance, causes unbalance of the body’s electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium), difficulty in concentrating, and fatigue. The best way to prevent dehydration is for the athlete to be well-hydrated 2-3 hours before exercise and to drink 8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes during the exercise. After the exercise or sporting event is done, the athlete should drink at least 16 ounces of fluid to replenish fluids lost. Special sports drinks are not necessary. Water and a healthy diet can be enough to supply the body with all the proper requirements.
Here is a sample meal plan that can provide an active teen athlete with proper nutrition:
Bagel with peanut butter
Low fat milk
100% fruit juice
Turkey and cheese sandwich
Low fat milk
Low fat milk
Guidelines & Standards
It is with the Dietary Guidelines that we commit to the following best practices:
Foods from all food groups will be offered in nutrient-dense forms
Local foods will be offered as available
Foods low in fat, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol will be offered
Foods low in sodium will be offered
An increase in vegetables and fruits will be offered with an emphasis placed on variety
Whole grains will replace the majority of refined grains
Fat-free and/or low-fat milk and dairy products will be offered
A decrease in sugar/sugary foods will be used/served
Lower fat methods will be used in food preparation
A variety of seafood will be offered weekly
Sugar-sweetened beverages will not be available
For Your Health
Being well and eating well means becoming aware of choices and making
the right decisions to achieve a better today and a better tomorrow.
Your Sodexo dining team is committed to offering you a wide range of
options for a healthy dining experience. From recipes that include the
most nutritious mix of ingredients to offering educational resources for
positive lifestyle habits, healthy options are the result of a team
dedicated to advancing the well-being of the entire campus community.
Another important part of our focus on health and wellness is the
use of seasonal menus, featuring fresh and healthy ingredients - many
of which are grown by local or regional farmers. Every season has its
own unique produce that is showcased in delicious signature dishes to
highlight the distinct flavors and natural appeal of seasonal items.
For students who have special dietary and nutritional needs we
have informational resources and customized menus to address your
needs. These menus meet the strictest compliance standards, without
sacrificing flavor, texture or presentation.
Sodexo's nutrition icons make it easy to identify healthy choices
Look for these nutrition icons on the foods being served on your campus to help you meet your dietary needs or desires.
If you need assistance finding the right types of foods for you,
please reach out to your on-campus Sodexo manager or chef. If you have additional dietary questions, please contact us so we can help! Sodexo has registered dieticians ready to answer your questions and help you make healthy choices.
Better Tomorrow Starts Today!