SEPTEMBER 2019
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

NUTRITION

Super nutrition for School athletes!

HAVI NIRAV

By BHAVI NIRAV

Back to school excitement is ringing in the air with offers on school supplies, uniforms and electronic gadgets! Kids may be contemplating which after-school activities they want to join considering their interest, friend’s participation and level of commitment. The nutrition needs of young athletes can be challenging. With school, sports season in full swing, approximately 45 million children participate in organized sports each year. It is becoming increasingly difficult to feed nutritious meals and snacks to these young athletes, since they are constantly on the go with super packed schedule of school, practice and other activities. A good nutrition plan helps the athletes feel more energetic, prevent injury and improves stamina. 

A customized nutrition plan is ideal for these athletes based on the type of activity, age and gender. Generally speaking, the higher the intensity of training, higher is the amount of carbohydrates and calories in their diet. Young athletes have a distinct nutrition requirements based on age due to the different adolescence stages: pre-puberty, active puberty and post puberty. During puberty, girls undergo a big change in body composition — body fat levels can increase from 16% to 27% coupled with a slight decrease in lean mass. Puberty in boys is different. As testosterone levels begin to rise, they gain lean body mass and experience decreases in body fat. 

Estimated caloric needs by age, sex and physical activity.

Male

     

Female

   

Age

Sedentary

Mod active

Active

Sedentary

Mod active

Active

2

1000

1000

1000

1000

1000

1000

3

1000

1400

1400

1000

1200

1400

4

1200

1400

1600

1200

1400

1400

5

1200

1400

1600

1200

1400

1600

6

1400

1600

1800

1200

1400

1600

7

1400

1600

1800

1200

1600

1800

8

1400

1600

2000

1400

1600

1800

9

1600

1800

2000

1400

1600

1800

10

1600

1800

2200

1400

1800

2000

11

1800

2000

2200

1600

1800

2000

12

1800

2200

2400

1600

2000

2200

13

2000

2200

2600

1600

2000

2200

14

2000

2400

2800

2000

2400

2800

15

2200

2600

3000

1800

2000

2400

16-18

2400

2800

3200

1800

2000

2400

             

Source: Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington (DC): The National Academies Press; 2002.  

Moderate level equivalent to walking 1.5-3 miles; and active equivalent to walking more than 3 miles. 

Carbohydrates provide the most important source, glucose used for energy. One gram of carb provides 4 kcals of energy. Glucose is stored as glycogen in muscles and liver. Muscle glycogen is the most readily available energy source for working muscles. Carbohydrates should comprise 45 to 65% of total caloric intake for 4-18-year-olds Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and yogurt. 

Proteins build and repair muscle, hair, nails and skin. For short duration exercise, proteins do not act as a primary source of energy. However, as exercise duration increases, proteins help to maintain blood glucose through liver gluconeogenesis (building glucose). A gram of protein provides 4 kcals of energy. Protein should comprise 10 to 30% of total energy intake for 4-18-year-olds.

Good sources of protein include lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans, seeds and nuts.

Protein

8 yrs         4 oz.

1 serving: 1 oz. meat, poultry, fish, 1 egg

9-13 yrs    5 oz.

¼ cup beans, 1 tbsp nut butter

14-18 yrs  5 oz. female

½ oz. seeds/nuts, 1 cup milk

                6.5 oz. male

12 almonds, 7 walnut halves

Fat is necessary to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), to provide essential fatty acids, protect vital organs and provide insulation. It is a calorie-dense source of energy (one gram provides nine kilocalories) but is more difficult to use. Fats should comprise 25 to 35% of total energy intake for 4- to 18-year-olds. Saturated fats should be limited to less than 10% of total energy intake. Good sources of fat include lean meat and poultry, fish, nuts, avocados, seeds, dairy products, ghee and oils. Fat from chips, candy, fried foods and refined baked goods should be minimized.

Micronutrients: Focus on vitamin D, calcium and iron

Vitamin D increases immunity, plays an important role in maintaining bone health by the absorption and regulation of calcium. Current recommendations suggest 600 IU/day for 4-to-18-year-olds. Sources of vitamin D include mushrooms, fortified milk and other fortified foods, and sun exposure. 

Calcium is important for bone health, normal enzyme activity and muscle contraction. The daily recommended intake of calcium is 1000 mg/day for 4-to-8-year-olds and 1300 mg/day for 9-to 18-year-olds. Sources: broccoli, spinach, milk, yogurt, cheese and fortified grain products.

Iron is important component of hemoglobin, (blood protein) responsible for oxygen delivery to body tissues. Boys and girls 9 to 13 years of age should get 8 mg/day to avoid iron-deficiency anemia. Adolescents 14 to 18 years of age require 11 mg/day for males and 15 mg/day for females. Sources: Iron – dates, eggs, beans, leafy green vegetables, seeds and lean meat. Vitamin C sources boost the absorption of iron.

The components and timing of the meal are critical factors for athletes’ performance. Before 2.5- 3 hours, the activity meals should comprise of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Fiber and fat intake should be limited because it takes longer to digest and can make athletes feel tired. Snacks or liquid meal should be taken 1-2 hours before the event. Fruit, granola or water with sugar, salt and lemon or sports drinks will keep energy levels high during an event. Recovery meal post-event should be consumed within 30 minutes, following by another meal after an hour to 2 hours to build and repair the muscles. Speaking of fluids, about 500 ml of water should be consumed 2-3 hours before the activity, and during the activity 150-300 ml water or sports drink every 20 minutes. Post activity, enough fluids should be consumed to replace fluids lost from sweating.

Bhavi Nirav is a Registered Dietitian/M.S., R.D., L.D., certified yoga practitioner, and can be reached at swarayog@gmail.com.

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