There comes a time when kids enter the world of organized sports. And if they enjoy and stick with it, things begin to change. Appetites increase, schedules get out of whack and performance matters. One very overlooked aspect of how well a child performs in any sport is nutrition.
Jill Castle, my coauthor of Fearless Feeding, has a solution to this missing component of kids sports. Her new book, Eat Like a Champion: Performance Nutrition For Your Young Athlete, helps parents and kids understand and use nutrition to their advantage. This is not just about performance either, it’s also about avoiding the food traps that can result in kids growing into less-than-healthy adults.
Did you know…?
- Children (6-18) who play sports have diets higher sugar-sweetened beverages, fast food, and calories than those who don’t.
- It’s common for young athletes to fall short – or even become deficient — in important nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, iron and folate.
- Research shows 75% of young athletes (8-18) come to practice dehydrated, which negatively affects performance.
- At the start of the sports season, protein needs are a bit higher due to the increased muscle building that takes place. Protein along with carbohydrates is also important for recovery after exercise.
- Children cannot store carbohydrates in muscle the way adults can which is why “carb loading” is ineffective for kids.
Eat like a Champion helps parents see that young athletes are not little adults when it comes to nutrition. They are still growing and that growth changes the game. Castle covers every aspect of kids’ sports nutrition including balancing carbs, protein and fat, hydration, vitamins and minerals, supplement benefits and dangers, how to snack smart and more. I love the stories of Castle helping young athletes solve their nutrition dilemmas. Most of the kids and parents were completely unaware that poor nutrition was hindering performance and growth!
As someone who grew up playing sports, I would have loved advice on eating and performance. I used to make sure before a big game that I had a complete breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast (knowing what I know now that meal would be very different). This really is the perfect time to teach children how the food they eat affects their bodies. And now parents, coaches and anyone involved in kids sports have a well written, research-based book to help them. If you own just one book on nutrition for young athletes, make it Eat Like a Champion.
There are also some enticing snack recipes in the book. I tried Castle’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites. They were so easy to make (no baking) and really tasty.
If you have a child in sports, Eat Like a Champion is the book you need to help them perform at their best and grow healthfully.