Your little athlete is running up and down the field, kicking, jumping for a head bunt and working hard to help their team nail a goal; burning calories and losing fluids the entire time. As moms we want the best for our children and, more than likely, you packed a few things to keep energy up and thirst down.
You may have heard that what a player consumes during a game or workout and afterward doesn’t affect their performance. For instance, some say whether they drink water or not during a game is inconsequential to performance. We’re going to dispel those myths, and others, right now.
It’s been proven that proper nutrition leads to better performance, and you and your young players can abide by some of the same tips the U.S. soccer pros follow for optimum performance and health. Here are the facts:
Let them be picky eaters. In the right way, of course; that means choosing foods that are processed less – the more natural and fresher the better. Those foods are fruits, vegetables, whole grains and high fiber carbohydrates (starches).
Teach them their colors. When your children eat natural foods with a variety of colors they’ll be consuming the correct amount of calories, vitamins and nutrients. These foods include orange and yellow peppers, apples, bananas, green lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches, plums… the list is almost endless.
Give lean. Lean sources of protein include shrimp, white meat poultry (dark meat is a little higher in fat), milk, cheese, yogurt, beans, pork tenderloin, soy and lean beef. These are great choices to get you started.
Boot bad fats. We don’t want to eliminate fats from our children’s diets; we just want to give them healthy fats. The best types of fats (omega-3 fatty acids) are found in fatty fish, flaxseed (ground and added to smoothies), and walnuts.
Make every morning a great morning. Our mothers were right: Having a healthy breakfast every day is the difference between optimal and poor performance. Use some of the food ideas above to prepare healthy, filling breakfasts.
Keep ’em balanced. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep kids from snacking, but provide some of the colorful foods above to make snacking worth it. Children need three healthy meals and three nutritious snacks each day.
Stay hydrated! It does matter whether miniature athletes drink water before, during and after a game. If dehydration sneaks in your player’s performance will decrease. Give them a minimum of three liters of a calorie-free beverage, including water and green tea, every day.
Post-game consumption. Kids want to have after game pizza, soda and ice cream, but what they need is a recovery meal or shake that has good carbohydrates and proteins.
Add extra. Some days are too hectic to meet all of our responsibilities and be super moms to boot, so consider providing multivitamin supplements. Check with your pediatrician to determine what’s best.
Snooze and win. The saying “You snooze, you lose” doesn’t apply to athletes. As adults we need at least eight hours of sleep to be top performers. Children, on the other hand, need upwards of 12 hours. Don’t forget sleep helps the body recover and repair.
Now you have the truth. All of these good things you will provide for your soccer star will beat those crazy myths and keep your athlete running up and down the field with vigor.