Nutrition is important not only before your young athlete hits the field, but also after. Drinking or eating the right meal after physical exertion can help their body recover while also preparing for the next practice or game.
- Rehydrate: Athletes of all levels – beginner to professional – lose fluids and electrolytes through sweat during training and games. Therefore, it is important to rehydrate with water or fluids containing electrolytes, like Gatorade. To enhance absorption, water should be consumed in small amounts along with a meal, rather than drinking one large quantity all at once. Once rehydrated, urine should be clear or similar to the color of lemonade.
- Replenish: Athletes performing at a high intensity or for an extended period of time often deplete their carbohydrate, or glycogen, storage. In order to replenish glycogen, athletes should consume a high carbohydrate meal or a recovery drink soon after strenuous exercise.
- Repair: Training and games can put a great deal of stress and damage on muscle tissue. Consuming 10-20 grams of protein directly following practice and games helps repair and rebuild muscle tissue.
How to Refuel
When choosing the best post-sports nutrition for your child, it is important to remember the three R’s. Athletes should aim for plenty of fluids, carbohydrates and moderate protein. For optimal recovery, it is best to consume something within the first 30 minutes to one hour following practice or games. Liquids and solids work equally well, but most athletes prefer liquids immediately following exercise due to lack of hunger. A few examples of refueling meals include:
- Gatorade Recover + fruit
- 16 oz low fat chocolate milk + 1 large fruit
- Large bagel with peanut butter and jelly + 8 oz. glass of milk
An Expert Opinion
Whether your child is a football player, gymnast, soccer player, or runner, our experts understand the key role nutrition plays in achieving athletic performance. Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute-Memorial City offers a comprehensive suite of nutrition-based testing and counseling services.