National Nutrition Week 2022: Sports Nutrition For Young Athletes

This national nutrition week, sports nutrition expert tells some key points that young athletes must keep in mind.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarPublished at: Sep 05, 2022Updated at: Sep 05, 2022
National Nutrition Week 2022: Sports Nutrition For Young Athletes

Nutrition is an important aspect of any sports person’s life, especially for young athletes. They need to understand the basics of sports nutrition in order to maintain performance levels. Which foods provide energy, which ones deplete energy levels, what foods one should eat for which events, etc. are some of the things they need to be aware of.

This National Nutrition Week, we reached out to Rihana Qureshi, founder- Get Fit with Rihana and a leading expert in sports nutrition and overall health, to know more about sports nutrition for young athletes.

Balanced diet is important for one and all, including athletes. You need to have micronutrients and macronutrients in appropriate amounts to get the required energy for sports activity and growth. According to Rihana, an ideal diet should consist of 40% of proteins, 40% carbohydrates, and 20% of fats.

Let's break this down -

Protein is a key nutrient for young athletes because it helps build, maintain and repair muscle tissue. When it comes to protein, athletes should opt for first-class proteins like chicken, fish, eggs, paneer, and curd since these have more amino acids than other sources like pulses or soya.

Sports Nutrition For Young Athletes

Carbohydrates are the most important fuel source for athletes because they provide the glucose used for quick energy. Muscle glycogen is the most readily available energy source for working muscle and can be released more quickly than other energy sources. But there are good sources and bad sources of carbohydrates. Processed carbohydrates such as bread, noodles, pasta should be avoided. Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and dry fruits.

Fat also plays an important role for athletes since it is a more steady source of energy. This is necessary for athletes doing endurance sports like marathons or football or cricket where they need to be on the field for a longer time. Fat also provides the feeling of satiety, so they do not constantly feel hungry. And it plays an important role in regulating some essential hormones in our body. The only thing athletes need to pay attention to is that they consume healthy fats like ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, fish oil, egg yolks, nuts and avoid fried foods prepared using commercial grade oil.

How to manage nutrition if you play any sports?

Although you need to have many vitamins and minerals for good health, for sports nutrition, in particular, athletes must consume vitamin D, calcium, and iron. While calcium is necessary for maintaining bone health, vitamin D allows optimal absorption of calcium, and iron is important for lean muscle mass and increased blood volume. All of these are crucial for sports nutrition.

Last but not least - fluids

Sports Nutrition For Young Athlete

particularly water, are important nutrients for athletes. Athletic performance can be affected by what, how much, and when an athlete drinks. Fluids help to regulate body temperature and replace sweat loss during exercise. They can opt for salty lemon water after any activity to replenish the electrolytes lost due to sweating.

Recovery foods should be consumed within 30 to 45 minutes of the activity. These can be high protein, high carb meals to help reload muscles with glycogen and allow for proper recovery with an electrolyte fluid to replenish the salts lost during sweating.

And although this doesn’t directly classify as nutrition, proper rest is very critical for athletic performance as well. So athletes need to rest well before and after the activity for optimal performance.

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