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Guidelines for the Young Athlete

January 22 2013

Guidelines for the Young Athlete
By: Debra Meszaros
Body Performance Coach- ClubMX

It’s a blessing when your children are active, but applying the proper dietary habits can really be a challenge. Their objective in life at this point, is to just have fun; although that should be the focus, parents would still like to see their kids healthy and fit.
So what can you do to blend health, fitness, and fun?

As a parent of two very active athletic children, I know first hand how difficult it is to just get your kids to eat enough food, never mind healthy food. There are many creative ways to get quality, healthier foods into their diets. It does take a parent to get involved to apply these simple adjustments.

The number one adjustment is usually breakfast. Society has conditioned us to think that cereal is the “breakfast of champions”. This is the furthest thing from the truth. Cereal usually contains sugar, and if not, the types of grains commonly found in them quickly turn to sugar in the body anyway. Many of the popular cereals contain statements of heart health on their boxes; many have been, and continue to be, sued for misrepresentation. Oatmeal and Granolas without any sugar added are better choices. You simply do not want to start the day with spiking your blood sugar. This habit sets the body up for a brief spike of energy followed by a low level of energy, and creates the call for more sugar or food. Your sugar craving or food binge cycle begins here. This can be avoided by replacing that breakfast choice with protein. For those that claim they have no time to prepare breakfast, you can default to utilizing many of the quality meal or protein powders available today. These can be made very appealing to children by preparing them along with some frozen fruit, which thickens the drink into a shake like consistency. Adding one tablespoon of flax oil or coconut oil to the shake lowers the glycemic level of the fruit, slowing down the release of these natural sugars into the body. If combined correctly, they won’t even know the oil is in there. A typical fruit smoothie is NOT a healthy drink; it is just sugar and contains no protein. Although a piece of fruit is considered a healthy food, if that’s all you consume for breakfast, you are again only consuming sugar. Many are also under the impression that a protein bar in the morning is an optimal choice; it may not be all you think it is. A majority of protein bars on the market contain too much sugar. They fool you by stating that the sugar is in fruit form, from honey, molasses, or some other natural form of sugar. Sugar is sugar whether from natural form or not. If you happen to be a parent with time to prepare breakfast, then your protein options expand greatly. A simple Google search will provide you with many options.

Some foods regarded as healthy like dried fruits, often creep into the diet. I see many kids using trail mixes as snack items. Just be aware, dried fruits require water to hydrate them to be digested. In most cases, kids are just not drinking enough water to hydrate themselves properly. When we incorporate dried fruits into the diet, it dehydrates them even more. Proper hydration is one of the most important states the body must be in, especially for an athlete. Headaches, loss of concentration, and many other body functions will be hindered in a dehydrated state, as all cellular communication slows down. For non-athletes to achieve proper hydration, one needs to drink half their body weight in ounces of water per day. For an athlete, it’s even greater. Along with the dehydration factor, dried fruits carry a sugar factor, since many dried fruits are additionally sweetened.

What affects the ability to build muscle?

One of the greatest actions you can do for your child is to normalize their insulin sensitivity. Diet and exercise are two things that can affect insulin sensitivity the most. Insulin plays a key role developing muscles. The mTOR mechanism synergistically belongs to the insulin pathway and must be activated for muscle development. This is why insulin resistant individuals, like type 2 diabetes, suffer from muscle wasting. Insulin is also a satiety hormone, it is synergistically connected to leptin, another satiety hormone; they both affect your hunger. One needs to normalize insulin sensitivity to have optimal muscle growth and development. Controlling sugar intake is the way.

Some simple guidelines to consider

1. Controlling sugar intake. Lowering or eliminating grains and all forms of sugars.
2. Incorporate high quality, hormone free, protein sources into the diet.
3. Place healthy fats into the diet like avocados, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, nuts and local, free range eggs.
4. Exercise regularly, high intensity interval training is best.
5. On training days, follow your training session with a protein shake within thirty minutes.
6. Be aware of over training. A typical day at the gym should leave you energized; if you are seriously fatigued, you may be overtraining.

If you are a busy parent that likes planning and being organized, MX Sports Nutrition offers an online meal planning tool that can optimize your time, making it easier to see the nutrition coming into the diet, as well as plan the family’s meals, and your shopping list. Ah, the beauty of virtual meal planning from your computer or smartphone!

©2013 Debra Meszaros All rights reserved; no duplication without permission.
DISCLAIMER: When you read through the diet and lifestyle information, you must know that everything within it is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. I am making no attempt to prescribe any medical treatment. You should not use the information here for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. The products and the claims made about specific products have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. Confirm the safety of any supplements with your M.D., N.D. or pharmacist (healthcare professional). Some information given is solely an opinion, thought and or conclusion based on experiences, trials, tests, assessments or other available sources of information. I do not make any guarantees or promises with regard to results. I may discuss substances that have not been subject to double blind clinical studies or FDA approval or regulation. You assume the responsibility for the decision to take any natural remedy.
You and only you are responsible if you choose to do anything with the information you have read. You do so at your own risk. I encourage you to make your own health decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.