Diet of Athletics

Since teen athletes need extra fuel, it’s usually a bad idea to diet. Athletes in sports where weight is emphasized such as wrestling, swimming, dance, or gymnastics might feel pressure to lose weight, but they need to balance that choice with the possible negative side effects mentioned above.

Eat a Variety of Foods

You may have heard about “carb loading” before a game. But when it comes to powering your game for the long haul, it’s a bad idea to focus on only one type of food. Carbohydrates are an important source of fuel, but they’re only one of many foods an athlete needs. It also takes vitamins, minerals, protein, and fats to stay in peak playing shape.

Muscular Minerals and Vital Vitamins

Calcium helps build strong bones that athletes depend on, and iron carries oxygen to muscles. Most teens don’t get enough of these minerals, and that’s especially true of teen athletes because their needs may be even higher than those of other teens. To get the iron you need, eat lean (not much fat) meat, fish, and poultry; green, leafy vegetables; and iron-fortified cereals. Calcium a must for protecting against stress fractures is found in dairy foods, such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. In addition to calcium and iron, you need a whole bunch of other vitamins and minerals that do everything from help you access energy to keep you from getting sick. Eating a balanced diet, including lots of different fruits and veggies, should provide the vitamins and minerals needed for good health and sports performance.

Protein Power

Athletes may need more protein than less-active teens, but most teen athletes get plenty of protein through regular eating. It’s a myth that athletes need a huge daily intake of protein to build large, strong muscles. Muscle growth comes from regular training and hard work. And taking in too much protein can actually harm the body, causing dehydration, calcium loss, and even kidney problems.