There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to nutrition in young athletes and I receive a lot of questions on this subject from parents. So I am going to share a few thoughts in this regard. As a former athlete and also a father of three very active kids, I have always been aware of the values of nutrient timing. Kids who play sports are really not that different than adults playing sports. Nutritional requirements for children is somewhat different, but timing really is not, because the same metabolic stresses are going on in both children and adults.
Approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours prior to an athletic event, I like to see a good balance of macronutrients (protein and carbs) consumed. The complex carbs are digested and convert to glycogen in the blood stream. Glycogen is fuel, that is easily burned for energy. Think of it as filling the bodies gas tank. The protein is a building block of muscles. It promotes healthy growth and repair. By having it in the bloodstream the body can deliver these protein molecules to the muscles as they are being worked.
During a game your child is best served to hydrate with water or a drink with a suitable amount of electrolytes. I prefer water because many of the “sports drinks” available have way to much salt for kids and the other ingredients (sweeteners, flavorings etc) are junk.
Right after a game or workout a healthy blend of highly digestible protein and carbs continues to carry out some very important objectives. Lets say your son or daughter has just completed a soccer match. They’ve been sprinting on and off for over 60 minutes. Their body is pumping oxygen filled blood and nutrients all over, but primarily to the leg muscles. While this is going on right after a game, think about delivering the best possible nutrition. This gets carried to those highly worked leg muscles, giving them exactly what it needs at the best possible time.
It is hard to get kids to eat a well balanced meal right after a game or workout. They tend to just want to drink. That’s why we designed our protein shake Phenom Young Athlete. It’s highly digestible with all natural ingredients, giving your kids a precise blend of protein and carbs, plus and appropriate dose of electrolytes, when they need it… and it tastes great.