5 Tips for Sports Nutrition for Young Athletes

With driving to and from soccer practice and games, I've seen how critical it's that our four children (growing athletes) are fueled with the best nutrition in their bodies. Each of them leave it all on the soccer fields and are c o m p l e t e l y exhausted when the final whistle blows in the game. Below are some tips for Sports Nutrition that hopefully add some value to yourself and/or to your growing athletes.

1) Sleep is most definitely sacred. Sleep is just as important as food and keeping hydrated. Getting enough good-quality sleep is essential in our home and helps with focus at school and in sport! Our young athletes get about 10 hours of sleep a night. Bed time is a happy time for everyone! We try to make each room as dark as possible and one hour before bedtime turn off distractions that stimulate their mind like electronics and artificial light. 2) Food Choices are key fueling their energy level. Our children will eat what we put in front of them. Yeah - they may ask for a carrot or two to chuck at their sister or brother but that dried up carrot on the floor of your mini-van is doing no good for anyone! So here's the deal - fast food is easy to shove in front of our kids during a long weekend of sports. It's fast, it's easy...but does it really help them on the pitch? Doubt it. Pack them a healthy lunch before you leave for the game. It takes extra time and effort on your part as a parent but in the end, their energy levels will remain consistent if you don't feed them a bunch of GMO products before they are being asked by their coach to give it their all. 3) Extra Protein to build and repair tired muscles. Protein helps build and repair muscles and most children get plenty of it with their healthy food consumption. Sometimes it's difficult to find quick and convenient options for protein. Our family uses pure and simple, gluten-free nutrition from the MySmart Shakes. One of our children's favorites is not 'cake pops' but 'shake pops.' I used the Strawberry Banana Shake recipe and put them in popsicles to freeze for 3 hours or unitl frozen. 4) Supplements are essential for high performance. Children need a variety of vitamins and minerals for high performance. We've chosen supplements for our younger children and pre-teens that support their immune systems with vitamins A, C, E and zinc. These also include vitamins for healthy brain function, vitamin D for strong bones and teeth, iron, thiamin and B12 for energy. These vitamins provide one of the best antioxidant complexes available for protection against oxidative stress, free of artificial flavors and sweetness and are science-based and pharmaceutical quality. Click hereto read more about what our children have taken for 7+ years. 5) Hydrate with water not sports drinks. The different colors of Gatorade are really cool - where do those colors come from?? SUGARS and Yellow 6? What in the world is yellow 6?!?! Whatever it is, it can't be good for ya. They may be fun to look at and leave a really cute purple mustache on their upper lip but in the end their blood sugar level will spike, you'll have a hyper active kid, and they'll crash after the game in a pile of low blood sugar. Gatorade is meant for professional athletes who train for a living. So unless your 3rd grader is going pro next year - stick to drinking water! Lots of it - guzzle it down - preferably not minutes before practice or game time. But you get the point. It's so important for our young athletes to drink plenty of water.