Written by: Erika Fuchs
Metabolism is the way that the human body breaks down energy (burns calories). When your athlete is participating in a strength-training program, they are increasing their metabolic rate and need to increase their caloric intake if they aren’t intending to lose weight. For a growing athlete, it is beneficial to add healthy foods such as healthy grains, fruits and vegetables.
The most important meal of the day is breakfast. Your athlete should eat upon waking in the morning. Breakfast starts your metabolism and will keep your athlete energized throughout the day. When a meal is missed, the body will crave the foods that it is deficient in later in the day. This may lead to an indulgence of unhealthful foods later in the night. A person must have at least three healthy meals a day including lean protein, a healthy grain, vegetables and a fruit. It is important to eat fruit, however, most people don’t realize fruits actually contain a significant amount of sugar. Although it is important to eat fruit, watch your portions. To see the daily recommendation by age, visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruit
It is critical to have your athlete eat throughout the day. Make sure that they understand the importance of eating a healthy meal before a workout. They must be fueled to workout; however, they may feel sick if they eat directly prior to their workout. About an hour to an hour and a half before exercising is the perfect time to eat a healthy snack such as a whole-wheat mini bagel with peanut butter or a pre-workout natural energy/protein bar. In addition, about thirty minutes to an hour after exercising, your athlete needs to re-fuel their body. It is essential when your athlete is participating in any type of lifting/strength training program, they must replenish their body with protein and healthy carbs after their workout. This will replenish their energy stores (carbohydrates) and will help build muscle (protein).
It is not only important for your athlete to eat throughout the day; it is equally as important that they eat in-between meals. Your athlete should eat healthy snacks to keep the blood sugar levels in their body steady all day. Some healthful snack ideas include: an apple with natural peanut butter, whole grain crackers with a cheese stick or a bowl of cereal with milk (sugar should be less then 7g), vegetables and hummus or Greek yogurt with fruit. Be creative! Some kids don’t like to eat these foods. Make them a healthy smoothie with protein powder, banana, peanut butter, and a splash of chocolate syrup. To keep steady blood sugar levels, have your athlete eat every three hours to keep them from craving unhealthy snacks or to keep them from getting too hungry.