Fuelling for Young Athletes
By Kaisha Scofield, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of presenting to two groups of young athletes at the Inspire Sports Academy.
Presenting to young people can be a bit different than presenting to their older counterparts. For one, if you aren’t able to keep their attention, they will let you know by fidgeting, wiggling in their chairs or outright ignoring you. Hungry kids generally have a much harder time paying attention so we were lucky that the kids were finishing up their lunches when we arrived. We also made sure to keep our presentation light and entertaining while also offering a movement break mid presentation, and took questions throughout. One of the most common questions we get from youth are what they can swap their favourite foods with. Here are some examples:
Our first group was primarily made up of young gymnasts, with one mountain biker in the mix. We discussed how to engage in proper fuelling for their intense practices while also emphasizing the importance of rest and recovery for their growing bodies. They were particularly interested in learning about the most effective ways of fuelling before and after training sessions. Here are a couple ideas that you could implement yourself!
The second group was made up of hockey players that ranged in age from 12-16. They were very interested in the details of nutrient density and macronutrient balance. Many of them shared their experiences with nutrient deficiencies and under-fuelling. We had a great discussion about when and when not to use supplementation and the advantages and disadvantages of macro tracking.
We were very impressed with how knowledgeable and interested these kids were about nutrition. They were engaged in the conversation and asked really insightful questions. One of my favourite questions was when one boy asked what he could eat to make himself taller. We had to break the bad news to him that while eating a nutritious diet would him the best chance at growing strong, genetics were in charge of his height.
Meeting with young athletes like this is extremely important because it helps to demystify the world of nutrition and give these young people and their families the opportunity to discuss challenges or confusions they might have about effective fuelling. Having trusted nutritionists with experience in sports nutrition and eating behaviours is extremely important for all athletes but particularly younger ones because it helps to promote healthy eating behaviours, appropriate fuelling and avoid conditions like REDs and disordered eating.
If you’re a young athlete, or just someone who would like to learn about how you fuel your body better, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more about the services I offer here.