Continuing our theme of returning to youth sports, this week we recommend 5 tips for properly fueling your kiddo as they return to their sport(s).
Typical eating versus fueling for sports can be two very different things. While many of the same general principles apply, it's important to be aware of some key differences.
Here are 5 key takeaways to fuel your kiddo to be at his or her best!
1. Stay Balanced
We want to avoid nutritional imbalances that can impact energy levels while our kids are playing. In particular, keep an eye on their carb and sugar intake. While kids will be able to burn sugar for energy, it can create peaks and valleys in their energy levels, leaving them tired and worn out 30-60 minutes after eating. Make sure the snacks you provide are balanced with healthy fats and protein to keep them fueled for longer periods of time.
2. Include Protein
Sports mean more physical activity, and more physical activity means more muscle breakdown and repair. Your kiddos might be especially sore as they first get back to their sport- this is their muscles naturally breaking down and rebuilding stronger. Make sure they have enough protein in their meals and snacks to fuel this increased muscle repair and growth, especially within 30 minutes after finishing their activity.
3. Prioritize Complex Carbs
Remember that sugars (simple carbohydrates) will digest and be used as energy quickly. Make sure your kiddos are getting a blend of not only simple sugars but also complex carbs (carbs that take the body longer to digest and use as fuel). This again is important so our kids can sustain energy levels for longer periods of time. Avoid snacks with excessive sugar and syrups and instead look for whole grains, fiber, and nuts.
4. Nail the Timing
We want to be very mindful and strategic about the timing of our kids' snacks. As a general rule, give your kids at least 30 minutes to digest a snack before heavy activity. Afterwards, a refueling snack (especially a quality protein source) is key within 30 minutes. If competing during a long meet day, you'll have to decide when is the right time for a full meal and when it's okay to sneak in a quick snack.
Always, always, always prioritize hydration. Before a nutritional deficit, our kids will feel the negative effects of being dehydrated. Make sure your kiddo has a water bottle with them at all times and is taking sips as needed during their practices or games. Pay special attention to hydration as the intensity level and temperature increases. If you have any uncertainty about how much water is needed, best to ask a coach.
Looking for a snack made to fuel young athletes? Zeek Kids Sports Bars are perfectly balanced with less sugar and more protein to keep kids fueled longer and stronger during their athletic activities.