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Getting fueled up for activity is really no different for kids than it is for adults. Be sure their getting the right pre-sport meals, staying hydrated and refueling after their sporting event.
Active children can burn through a lot of calories—so much so, that it often seems there’s no way to satisfy their appetites. Children who participate in sports may have intensive practices and games several times a week, burning through calories like there’s no tomorrow.
When their appetites are out-of-control, it’s tempting to let active children eat what they want, thinking that they’ll just burn it off. But even when calorie needs are high, kids and their parents need to understand that it doesn’t give them license to eat foods with little nutritional value.
Getting fueled up for activity is really no different for kids than it is for adults. They need the right pre-sport meals, to stay hydrated and refuel after the event, which are the biggest concerns. The only wrinkle is that kids are often more picky about what they’ll eat than adults are, so it can be a bit more challenging to meet the nutritional needs of a child athlete.
Kids who are serious about sports are often more receptive than others to trying new foods. When children understand that a healthy diet can help them with performance, it’s often a lot easier to encourage them to take in more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans—and less fat and sugar.
Children need to understand that their body is like an engine, one that needs the right fuel to run properly. Healthy carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and grains (like whole grain breads, crackers, cereals or pasta) are the body’s preferred source of fuel. They help to not only sustain exercise, but are needed afterwards to help replenish body stores.
The body also needs healthy lean proteins from foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, milk, yogurt, eggs and soybeans. These help build and repair muscles after exercising. And small amounts of healthy fats from foods like avocados or nuts help meet calorie needs.