We must keep in mind that when children practice sports, they need more energy. For this reason, at Gasol Foundation we believe it is necessary to pay special attention to sports nutrition for young athletes in order to ensure proper development, avoid injuries and improve their physical and mental performance. Our young athletes diets should be complete and balanced, in order to make certain they get enough quality energy and are well-hydrated!
When we talk about quality energy, we are referring nutrient dense foods such as nuts, avocado, blue fish or olive oil. All of these foods have a high unsaturated fat content and are rich in vitamins and minerals, which are all necessary in a healthy diet. On the contrary, there are foods rich in saturated fats, fatty acids, free sugars or salt which should be eliminated from one’s diet. Examples include packaged pastries, chips, processed food, etc. which have very little nutritional value.
When it comes to hydrating, there are currently a lot of beverages on the market which catch children’s eyes, but they are normally carbonated drinks containing a lot of free sugars or caffeine. We should go for healthier options, such as water and fresh fruit. We can also help our children stay hydrated by making sure they eat a lot of vegetables and dishes such as soups.
In general, these are the two most important elements to a healthy diet for athletic activity, but at Gasol Foundation we would also like to take advantage and go over the best food to eat before, during and after practicing sports:
Before practicing sports
- One hour before practicing sports, drink one glass of water or eat a fruit with a high water content.
- Get energy from a plate of pasta or rice with a small portion of vegetables and lean meat or eggs or fish.
Example of a Single dish: Pasta with zucchini, onion, carrots and chicken or Rice with mushrooms, leeks and shrimp
Right after practicing sports
This is the time to get quick, easy to absorb energy from fruit, bread, or carbohydrates low in fiber, and protein from dairy products, nuts, lean meat, fish or eggs in order to repair and develop muscles. All of this should be paired with good hydration.
- Fruit, bread, or carbohydrates low in fiber,
- Dairy products, nuts, lean meat, fish, eggs, etc.
Examples: Strawberry smoothie with yogurt and cookies / Cereal bar with nuts / Toast with cheese / Toast with omelette
After having practiced sports
After having practiced sports, the body needs energy from complex carbohydrates, as well as protein from dairy products, nuts, lean meat, fish or eggs in order to repair and develop muscles. As always, this should be paired with good hydration.
- Plate of rice or pasta with a small portion of vegetables
- Lean meat, fish or eggs
Example of a Single dish: Tomato, arugula, shredded carrot and tuna sandwich / Pasta with green asparagus, onion and turkey
Active, growing children require good nutrition to build healthy bodies and to help them be the best they can be. Don’t forget that many attitudes towards food are shaped during early school years, forming the basis for future eating habits. As parents we can help our children build healthy foundations by encouraging a love of good food and good nutrition throughout these years!