To take on a full day of tournament competition, your young athlete needs proper nutrition and hydration. A simple menu of wholesome foods will keep your child fueled the whole day through.
Start the day with a nutritious breakfast
You’ve heard it before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. How your child fuels his or her body first thing in the morning sets the energy tone for the rest of the day.
Oatmeal is rich in protein and vitamins, and its high content of fiber and complex carbohydrates encourages slow digestion and stabilizes blood-glucose levels.
Choose lunch foods that pack a punch
“A lunch that’s high in protein will help keep energy levels consistent,” says nutrition expert Mitzi Dulan. “Pack foods such as canned salmon, nut butters or deviled eggs on whole-grain bread.”
Wassner keeps energy levels high with “midday peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches on whole-wheat bread or turkey and cheese on a roll.”
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
“Staying hydrated throughout the day is an essential tool for maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle,” says Dulan, who is currently the nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals baseball team.
But many kids find water boring and opt instead for expensive store-bought energy drinks. So, Dulan suggests making water more appealing with a bit of honey.
“Since honey naturally contains about 17 percent water, it dissolves easily,” says Dulan. “Just add a tablespoon of honey to 8 ounces of water for a budget-friendly energy drink.”
Wassner recommends coconut water for hydration.
“It’s all natural and contains electrolytes and has less sugar than many sports drinks.”
Snack through the 3 p.m. slump
Even the most energetic student athlete can face the infamous afternoon slump. Tempting vending-machine candy and soda promise a temporary lift but don’t provide the energy boost kids need to get through a challenging afternoon of competition.
Pack a wholesome energy snack for your child to enjoy between lunch and dinner. Dulan recommends cut-up fruits or veggies with a nut-butter-and-honey dip, and Wassner suggests granola, Greek yogurt and pretzels.
For a high-powered boost, whip up a batch of Dulan’s Honey Peanut Butter Protein Energy Balls, featuring oats, coconut and more. Check out the recipe at the National Honey Board’s website.