Youth Sports Performance
Basics of Performance Nutrition for Youth Athletes
Nutrition That Scores
High-level athletic performance requires food and nutrient intake that is customized to each athlete’s sport, training schedule and individual needs. Many young athletes have typical eating patterns that will actually decrease their chances to reach their peak performance. Proper types, amounts and timing of meals are especially critical throughout puberty when nutrition can make its greatest contribution to a young athlete’s future adult overall physical stature. Improper nutrition throughout these years can prevent one from developing to their full potential in all areas. Furthermore, everybody’s daily energy level potential is entirely determined by how and when they fuel their body in relation to their sport activities. Anything less than eating within the basic guidelines for a specified activity, including meal composition and timing, simply leads to a lower energy potential when compared to proper eating. And this can be the difference between a strong or not-so-strong start and finish of the game/workout. When your energy systems are full, you always feel your best, think better, react quicker, last longer and recover faster.
Proper nutrition can
- Provide the physical potential to maximize skill acquisition
- Maximize performance during events, including optimizing mental focus by properly loading and reloading energy and fluids
- Enhance each training outcome because properly timed feedings of the right nutrients will build more muscle & strength than “random eating”. In other words, your body will spend more time and energy building muscle rather than simply repairing the exercise damaged tissues – every workout should make you better, bigger, faster or stronger
- Contribute to an extended competitive lifespan: by maintaining proper nutrition the body receives a steady flow of the “right stuff”, which means less wear and tear and thus a natural slowing of the athletic aging process
- Control weight because diet is solely responsible for achieving ideal playing weight
My experience as a personal trainer, Professional bodybuilder, collegiate athlete, health coach, soccer coach, and five years as a preschool teacher, provides me with a holistic perspective on the importance of nutrition in development and performance.
Nutritional habits are formed by age SEVEN. In most cases we will already need to adjust and modify habits, as many of the athletes we work with will be beyond this age and will likely have built less than ideal dietary habits. Since nutrition is so vital to not just sports performance, but overall development, it is all the more important that we teach and apply the right approach by using the best information available for our nutrition.
My role as a health coach is to provide guidelines for sports nutrition and counsel to parents, other coaches, and players on the best nutrition and training practices for their performance goals. Empowering knowledgeable nutritional patterns will positively affect the individual on the whole and certainly improve sports performance. My ongoing support will includes:
-Proper nutrient intake for individuals based on weight
-Pre/Post workout meals & meal timing as fuel for sports performance
-Best sources for Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats
My dream is to impart the knowledge I have gained in the area of fitness and nutrition on all those who want to reach their peak health and potential. I remember being 12 and wanting to know all these things. I wanted to know how to train to get bigger, stronger, and faster. I wanted to know what I should be eating to accomplish that. I wanted to train like a professional and to become a professional. It took me over 20 years of wanting and learning to figure that out. I don’t want it to take 20 years of wanting and learning for the next generation of athletes to figure out what I have learned. I would much rather teach, share, and build upon what I have learned as I help others progress to and through their goals.
Thanks again for your time, please also review the two brief write ups on supplementation by my supplement partner, dotFIT–the only company I trust for my supplementation.
Should my child use supplements to improve their sports performance?
Answer: It depends on how you define “supplement”, but meal timing, composition and use of healthy “food style” training formulas (e.g. shake mixes, sports bars, etc.) are appropriate and important to any athlete’s success.
Therefore, the answer is that your child athlete can and should “supplement” traditional food intake with specially formulated healthy shake mixes or foods that can speed recovery and support muscular development when used properly in conjunction with exercise. By specially formulated we mean the perfect amounts, ratios and blends of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in a quick digesting form. We call these “pre- and post-event feedings” as they are actually foods that supplement the diet and have been scientifically proven to enhance exercise-induced outcomes including performance. Please see our 3500 calorie menu for athletes or read about First String by clicking the link. First String is our shake mix specifically designed to meet NCAA guidelines.
Additionally, although not a performance-enhancing supplement, persons of all ages should include a daily multivitamin and mineral formula. All other supplements should be off limits to anyone under 18 years of age unless recommended by a qualified health professional.
Related to other purported performance enhancing supplements: because there is very little data on the use of performance enhancing supplements for youth athletes, and for ethical reasons (as with pregnant females) there probably never will be, the dotFIT team and most other professionals recommend that athletes wait until they have completed puberty or reach the age of 18 before investigating the use of these substances.
Pre- and post- feedings: You build more muscle and strength when incorporating pre- and post-training feedings. Virtually all studies have demonstrated that “immediate” pre- and post-training carbohydrate and protein feedings stimulate muscle growth and reduce muscle damage to a far greater extent than normal feeding patterns, even when overall daily calories, carbohydrates and protein intake are equal. And it was recently discovered that this growth activity (size contribution) that takes place inside this “~60-minute post-training window” is not made up for at some other point in the day. Meaning this unique muscle growth period is activated by the feedings.
During these windows, muscle cell nutrient uptake is at its highest points of the day so we must deliver a perfect, fast-acting formula before the “windows” close if we want to maximize exercise-induced strength, performance and/or size gains.
In summary, feeding your muscles before and immediately after training (and the sooner the better) with a rapidly absorbed formula (not traditional foods) will allow you to build more muscle than if you don’t engage in the practice, no matter how well you eat the rest of the day.
Should my child take a multivitamin?
Answer: Yes, and here’s why:
Children generally need more nutrient-dense foods in their diets due to the fact that they tend to consume smaller amounts of food at meals. A child’s diet may lack essential nutrients for a number of reasons. For example, there are very few natural dietary sources of vitamin D other than fatty fish and liver, which are uncommon in a young child’s diet. Not surprisingly, children tend to avoid nutritious foods. They commonly gravitate toward empty-calorie foods such as cookies, crackers and candy. Eating this type of food generally depresses a child’s appetite for healthier foods. Children who do not receive proper levels of all nutrients do not have the full potential to develop and function optimally.
Although vitamin deficiency is uncommon in the United States, insufficiency or marginal deficiency is widespread and could have profound health consequences later in life. Children with substandard daily diets find it difficult to produce academic performance equal to their counterparts who consume diets that come closer to the suggested RDAs. A daily multivitamin and mineral formula (MVM) helps children receive the nutrients their diet may lack. In a well-designed study by Schoenthaler et. al., children using a multivitamin and mineral supplement (MVM) that raised their nutrient intake to the equivalent of a well-balanced diet increased their I.Q. compared to the placebo group by an average of 2.5 points. In one-fifth of the participants, the MVM raised their I.Q. 16 points, presumably because this group of children ate a poorer diet. A very recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that 12 weeks of multivitamin and mineral supplementation in normal, healthy 8-14 year-olds significantly improved their cognitive/brain functioning, thus validating the already strong argument for the daily use of a MVM for all but especially during developing years. See our Position on Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation.
Note to parents
Providing your child a daily multivitamin does not decrease the importance of eating healthy foods and establishing good eating patterns, nor can a multivitamin and mineral formula replace the nutritional value of food, but it can supplement a diet lacking essential nutrients. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that infants, children and adolescents obtain 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D every day, which is double the previous recommendation. This guideline is based on recent evidence that children and adolescents may not be getting enough of this vitamin and the occurrence of extreme vitamin D deficiency (rickets) among infants and adolescents in the United States is of particular concern. The safety of giving infants and children 400 IU of vitamin D per day has also been established, and research indicates that getting enough calcium and vitamin D throughout childhood reduces the risk of osteoporosis and other diseases later in life.
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