If they do not take in the right nutrients, children can become overweight, which reduces their stamina and ability to accelerate.
Alternatively, hungry children are drowsy and weak, and in the worst scenario, of damaged health.
Let us look at the kinds of food they should consume on the game day, as well as the basic guidelines of young football player’s diet.
Game Day Nutrition
Pre-game meals should be eaten at least 3-6 hours before the referee blows the whistle and their purpose is to keep blood sugar level in normal range.
With full glycogen stores young football players also have the optimal amount of fuel before the event. As long as there is enough time for the body to digest the food, meals can be anything that contains carbohydrates, fat and protein.
In other words, youngsters should try to eat toast with honey, rice with low-fat sauce, baked potatoes or breakfast cereals with low-fat milk, before the game starts.
Once the game is over, every young football player should immediately balance out their system – specifically, the fluids and carbohydrates – in order to promote recovery of depleted glycogen stores.
Still, some children just don’t want to eat immediately after exhausting physical activity. In such situations, resort to tasty post-workout drinks or diluted fruit juices. If that’s not the case, it is well recommended for youngsters to consume meals rich with carbohydrates, such as rice noodles or spaghetti.
Important Nutrients for Healthy Growth
I have to point out though, that the meals described above should not replace any of the regular daily meals, but the basic guidelines remain the same – carbohydrates should make about 60% of a young athlete’s diet, especially if they face several exhausting training sessions during the week.
Bread, cereals, pasta, rice, fruit, and vegetables are more than welcome.
Young athletes also need increased amounts of proteins in order to build and maintain muscles.
The exact amount is somewhere between 1.0-1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. Proteins can be easily found in meat, milk, butter, eggs, nuts, and yogurt, so it’s easy enough to find the right combination of carbohydrates and protein even in most mundane meals.
Finally, young athletes should take enough fluids – 8 to 10 glasses a day.
Optimal Daily Intake
With all things said, let’s see what an optimal daily menu should look like:
- 80 grams of lean meat, dry beans, eggs or fish
- 3-4 servings of cheese, yogurt or milk (a serving = one slice or one cup)
- 6-11 servings of rice, pasta, cereals, or bread
- 2-4 pieces of fruit
- 3-5 cups of vegetables (either raw or cooked)
As we can see, the nutrition of young football players shouldn’t pose too much of a problem from the ingredient standpoint, but it demands some attention and discipline nevertheless.
This is just another way to teach a young child self-control and discipline, especially because the child is already interested in the well-disciplined life of a professional athlete.
By eating according to their own needs, not only will they achieve better results, but they will develop into healthy, mindful individuals.