Making your child a perfect Athlete through Nutrition

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Establishing high performance eating habits early in life will help set your child up for a long, healthy life in their chosen sports. Parents and coaches frequently ask “What are the best foods and drinks for kids to have to boost athletic performance?” Just as often, in conversations between parents at sporting events, quite different opinions are expressed about what is best practice in feeding and hydrating our athletics stars of tomorrow.

The foods and fluids consumed by Athletes of any age can have a big impact on their ability to train, compete and recover well. Food provides fuel to exercising muscles and nutrients for growth, recovery, cognition (ability to think well) and the immune system. It makes sense then that choosing foods and fluids that provide the optimal amounts of nutrients, can help ensure a fit, strong and healthy young Athlete.

>>The exercise your kid might enjoy<<

It is important for your child to eat well every day – not just on the day of the event. The foods they eat on a day to day basis help develop the ability to store glycogen in their muscles, maximize their growth and development and prepare them for performing at their best on competition day. Active children need constant refueling and hydrating. Their nutrition needs are particularly important as they must meet requirements for not only their physical activity, but also their growth and development as well as overall health and well-being.

Food requirement to stay Fit and Strong

Staying hydrated

Managing fluid intake is just as important as food intake for the health and performance of your child. Children can overheat and dehydrate quickly as they are not able to regulate their body temperature as well as adults. Getting your child into the habit of drinking fluid regularly can help them develop good skills in staying hydrated throughout their sporting career.

Carbohydrate for Energy

Ensure your child have frequent opportunities to eat foods rich in carbohydrate such as bread and other cereal products, pasta, rice, fruit, starchy vegetables and calcium rich dairy foods.

Protein for growth & development

As well as eating and enjoying a wide variety of carbohydrate rich foods, it is important to make sure that your child have enough protein in their diet to optimist growth and development.


All children require a small amount of fat (3 – 4 teaspoons) in their daily food intake for normal growth and development. It is recommended that all children limit their intake of saturated fats (mainly from animal fats). For proper growth and development however, children, should include healthier unsaturated fats found in foods like fish, nuts, seeds and avocados.

Author: Bibian Okoye

A Retired Chief Nursing Officer, PGDip IHM

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