Fueling the Adolescent Athlete

Updated: Apr 20, 2021


Nutrition is often a piece of the performance puzzle that adolescent athletes overlook. To keep up with their daily training regimen, athletes must consume adequate amounts of calories daily. To optimize growth, health, and performance, adolescent athletes should attempt to consume a variety of nutrient-rich foods daily. Today, we are going to discuss how to build a quality sports diet for an adolescent athlete.


Carbohydrates


Although low-carb diets have become popular in recent years, adolescent athletes rely heavily on carbohydrates for optimal performance and growth. Carbohydrates provide a quick source of energy for the body. Athletes should focus on choosing nutrient-rich carbohydrates 80 to 90 percent of the time. I like to call these carbohydrates “go” carbs. In comparison, “fun” carbohydrates are lower in nutrients and fiber. Keep fun carbohydrates to less than 20 percent of your carbohydrate intake. Since fun carbohydrates are often easier on the stomach, it may be best to use these before or after workouts. Athletes should experiment with different carbohydrate sources around training to determine what works best for them. Adolescent athletes should strive to consume at least 2 to 4 servings at main meals. Including carbohydrate-rich foods at snacks can also increase performance and recovery.



Go Carbs - 80-90% (a good source of nutrients and fiber)

  • 1 slice whole grain or sprouted grain bread

  • 1 whole grain tortilla

  • 1/2 whole grain English muffin

  • 1 small whole grain dinner roll

  • 1/2 whole grain bagel

  • 5" whole wheat pancake or waffle

  • 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup cooked whole wheat or bean pasta

  • 1/2 cup cooked brown or wild rice

  • 1/2 cup cooked brown or wild rice

  • 1/2 cup cooked amaranth or quinoa

  • 1/2 cup cooked teff

  • 1/2 sweet or baked potato

  • 1/2 cup corn or peas

  • 1/2 cup beans (pinto, black, etc.)

  • 1/2 cup lentils

  • 5 whole grain crackers

  • 2 whole grain rice cakes

  • 3 cups popcorn

  • 1 medium piece of fruit

  • 1 cup of berries or cubed melon

Fun Carbs - 10-20% (lower in nutrients, but easier to digest)

  • 1 slice white bread

  • 1 white tortilla

  • 1/2 white hamburger bun

  • 1/2 white bagel

  • 1 small muffin

  • 3/4 cup sugared cereal

  • 1/2 cup white pasta

  • 1/2 cup white pasta

  • 1/2 cup white rice

  • 1/2 package ramen noodles

  • 1 pack fruit snacks

  • 1 sport gel

  • 15-20 skittles

  • 1 Tbsp. syrup

  • 2 Tbsp. jam

  • 3 small sandwich cookies

  • 1/2 cup ice cream

  • 1/2 cup Jell-O®

  • 10 chips

  • 2 graham cracker sheets

  • 5 saltine crackers

 

Protein


Adequate amounts of protein are essential for promoting muscle growth, and recovery from exercise. Adolescent athletes should focus on spreading their protein intake throughout the day, and around exercise. Athletes can optimize their protein intake by consuming a protein-rich meal or snack every 2 to 3 hours. Adolescent athletes should aim for 3 to 6 oz. of lean protein or 2 to 3 servings of meat alternatives at main meals, and after intense workouts. Strive to include roughly 1 to 2 servings of meat alternatives at snacks.





Lean protein

  • 1 oz. beef (90/10, loin, tenderloin)

  • 1 oz. chicken (skinless)

  • 1 oz. turkey (skinless)

  • 1 oz. pork (loin, chops)

  • 1 oz. fish (non-breaded)

  • 1 oz. shrimp (~3-4 medium -sized)

  • 1 oz. wild game (venison, etc.)

  • 1 oz. jerky

Meat Alternatives

  • 1 oz. cheese

  • 1 string cheese

  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 cup kefir

  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter or almond butter

  • 10-15 nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc)

  • 1 Tbsp. seeds

  • 1/2 cup beans (black, kidney, etc.)

  • 1/2 cup lentils

  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame

  • 1 tuna packet

  • 1 whole egg

  • 2 egg whites

  • 2 oz. tofu

  • 1/2 veggie burger

  • 1 cup plant-based milk (Ripple, Silk Protein)

  • 1/2 scoop protein powder


 

Healthy Fat


Fats assist our body in absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. In addition, fat is required for producing hormones, along with providing insulation, and cushioning the body’s vital organs. Adding 1 to 2 servings of healthy fats to meals or snacks can help adolescent athletes meet their increased calorie needs.





Healthy Fats - More Often (may reduce inflammation)

  • 1 Tbsp. nut butter (peanut, almond, etc.)

  • 1 Tbsp. seeds (sunflower, etc.)

  • 10-15 nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc)

  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds

  • 2 Tbsp. flaxseeds

  • 1.5 Tbsp. hemp seeds

  • 1 tsp. oil (olive, avocado, etc.)

  • 1/4 avocado

  • 2 Tbsp. hummus

  • 1 Tbsp. salad dressing

  • 1 whole egg

  • 10 olives

  • Wild game (venison, etc.)

  • Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna)

Fun Fats - Less Often (may increase inflammation)

  • 1 tsp. butter

  • 1 slice bacon

  • 1 sausage link

  • 1 hot dog

  • 2 tsp. mayonnaise

  • 3 small pepperoni slices


 

Snack Ideas for Athletes

Sample 1:

  • 1 cup fruit

  • nut and cereal trail mix

  • 1 drinkable style yogurt

Sample 2:

  • Mini bagel with peanut butter or almond butter

  • Small container of Greek yogurt

Sample 3:

  • 20-30 pretzel twists with almond butter

  • Glass of milk or milk alternative

Sample 4:

  • Apple with peanut butter

  • String cheese

  • 1-2 oz. lean jerky

Meal Ideas for Athletes

Sample 1:

  • 4-5 oz. grilled BBQ chicken

  • 1.5-2 cups rice or quinoa

  • 1-2 cups stir-fry vegetables

  • Glass of milk or milk alternative

Sample 2:

  • 2-3 Kodiak pancakes with syrup or applesauce

  • Small bowl of diced melon or berries

  • Drinkable yogurt or glass of milk

Sample 3:

  • 1 or 2 peanut butter and banana sandwiches

  • Drinkable yogurt or glass of milk

Sample 4:

  • 3-4 homemade tacos with cheese, beans, tomatoes and lettuce

  • Raw vegetables with guacamole

  • Glass of milk or milk alternative


 

It can be challenging to know what and how much to eat when training or active in sports. Bellin Health offers one-on-one consultations with a Registered Dietitian/Performance Nutrition Specialist to help individuals learn about their nutritional needs. Consults are individualized and geared toward improving nutrition to promote optimal athletic performance and overall health. For more information, please call: Lee Hyrkas (920) 430-4728 or email HyrkasRD@gmail.com


#ConnextBlog #HealthyEating #TrackandField #Athletes

110 views0 comments