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It Doesn’t Matter Whether You Win or Lose, it’s How You Fuel Your Body: Sports Nutrition for Kids

“If you’re not in your own personal best health, then you can’t possibly perform at your best.”  These wise words were spoken by Dr. Paul Stricker, pediatric sports nutrition expert.  April is Global Child Nutrition Month, the perfect time to focus on improved nutrition for kids.  Child nutrition is not only important for forming healthy habits and for healthy growth, but it is also crucial for child athletes.  So many kids today are involved in sports, and they all want to perform their best.  The key to your child’s success is a healthy diet.  Filling their bodies with the healthy foods they need will give them the fuel to be the star of the team.  You’d be surprised how easy it is to supply excellent nutrition for kids- all you need is a little creativity, and a whole lot of fruits and vegetables!

Power Snacks

About an hour or two before sports practice or the big game, give your kids a healthy snack, ideally containing carbohydrates and protein.  The carbohydrates and protein work together to keep your kid going throughout their activity.  The sugars in the carbohydrates will give a burst of energy at the start of your kid’s practice/game, and the protein will help sustain that energy once the carbohydrates are burned up.  Peanut butter and whole grain crackers, or a half of a lean turkey sandwich are both great options.  Calcium is another great element to add to a pre-game snack.  Since your young athlete is growing, it is important for him or her to eat lots of calcium- pre-sports and otherwise.  A small glass of fresh orange juice or some sliced kiwi are both great additions to any pre-sports snack.  Need some more inspiration?  The Huffington Post has some great pre-workout snack ideas for kids and teens!

Vegetable-Rich Meals

Healthy snacks aren’t enough to get your kids in sports-ready-shape they have to eat healthy all the time!  Planning out healthy dinners and packing nutritious lunches will ensure all the bases are covered.  A good rule-of-thumb is to fill a little less than half of their plates with vegetables.  That way, you’ll know that your kids are getting all the nutrients and vitamins they need to stay healthy and active.  There are so many delicious (and kid-friendly) things you can make with vegetables, and you can even cook with your kids to come up with the perfect vegetable-rich meal.  To get the creative juices flowing, check out this website

Keep Them Hydrated

One of the most important things you can do for your child’s health is to keep them hydrated.  Our bodies are constantly losing water, especially when we’re active and sweating, and it is crucial to replenish it.  Kids (and people of all ages) should drink half their body weight, in ounces, of water a day (ex. If you way 100 lbs, you need to drink 50oz) - and even more if they’re going to be active.  Encourage your kids to drink more water by serving it at meals and by packing water bottles in their lunches for school.  Once they get in the habit, drinking water will become second nature.

Juice Plus+

A great way to ensure your kids are getting all the fruits and vegetables they need is to give them Juice Plus+.  Whether in capsule or chewable form, the whole-food based ingredients will only benefit your young athlete!  As Dr. Stricker says, “How can you supplement what you’re doing already by just adding to your nutritional intake?  That’s where I think Juice Plus+ does the better job than anything because it purely is whole food.” Dr. Bill Sears, a pediatric specialist, also agrees that Juice Plus+ can help enhance nutrition for kids. He writes “Juice Plus+ is the best way to get your entire family to reap more of the healthful benefits of a diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables.” Feeding your kids healthy and nutritious meals and snacks, and then adding Juice Plus+ on top will make them invincible in their sports!

What’s your go-to pre-sports nutrition for your kids?  Share with us in the comments!

References:
http://mom.me/parenting/4906-nutrition-kids-pre-workout/?p=1
http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/myplate-and-what-is-a-serving-of-fruits-and-vegetables
http://www.superhealthykids.com/recipe-category/vegetable/
http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/09/13/the-truth-about-how-much-water-you-should-really-drink

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