Focusing on the timing of nutrition off and on the court.
Youth athletes have increased energy needs in order to stay fueled and focused to play their best in games and/or practice, as well as continue to grow and develop. Focusing on their food choices is important for making sure they are getting adequate protein and calories, however, the timing of those foods and snacks can be just as important. Timing and selection of foods before, during, and after competition can make all the difference in training, competing, and recovering, throughout the sports season.
(2-3 hours before):
- Light meal with a moderate amount of carbohydrates, protein, and a small amount of fat
- Examples: turkey sandwich or peanut butter and jelly, with crackers and hummus, fruit, and plenty of water
(Less than 1 hour before):
- A small snack of easily digestible carbohydrates and limited protein and fat with fluids
- Examples: low-fiber granola bars, dry cereals, pretzels, crackers, rice cakes, water or sports drink
During the event
- Easily digestible carbohydrates and plenty of fluids
- Examples: salted pretzels, sports gummies/chews, water and/or sports drink
After the event
- Meal with a generous amount of carbohydrates including lean protein sources and a moderate amount of fat and of course, plenty of fluids especially with added electrolytes if the event was long, vigorous, or in hot weather
- Examples: spaghetti with marinara sauce and chicken sausage, side salad, and garlic bread with water
Refueling and rehydrating with a combination of carbohydrate-rich foods and protein will help the young athlete recover and rebuild, while also getting ready for the next training day or competition. Remember it is important to stick with foods that the athlete is already familiar with, to avoid not feeling well or not digesting properly, before, during, and after a game.
Here are some recipes for quick and easy pre and post-fuel!
Peanut Butter & Banana Parfait
4 Ingredients – 5 Minutes – 1 Serving
|1/2 cup Plain Greek Yogurt|
|1/4 cup Granola|
|1/2 Banana (halved lengthwise or chopped)|
|1 tbsp All Natural Peanut Butter|
- Layer the yogurt, granola, banana, and peanut butter in a jar. Enjoy!
Black Bean & Roasted Red Pepper Patties
8 Ingredients – 35 Minutes – 2 Servings
|1 1/2 cups Black Beans|
|5 oz Roasted Red Peppers (drained, chopped)|
|1/4 cup Parsley (chopped, tough stems removed)|
|1/4 cup Bread Crumbs|
|2 tbsps Feta Cheese|
|2 tbsps Smoked Paprika|
|1 tsp Garlic Powder|
|Sea Salt & Black Pepper (to taste)|
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF (205ºC) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mash all the ingredients until a mixture forms, adding a few tablespoons of water one at a time if needed.
- Form the mixture into patties, about three inches wide and one inch thick. Transfer to the baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping halfway, or until browned and crisp.
- Divide it onto plates and enjoy!