Our student athletes are pros at juggling so many things — homework, practice, extracurriculars, friends — trying to eat right can often get lost in the mix!
No wonder parents ask us about the best ways to feed their athletes all the time. Sports nutrition for teenagers can be tough due to their on-the-go schedules, love of fast foods and more. But not eating enough or not eating the right types of foods can definitely hurt their athletic performance — in addition to their mood, health, growth and overall quality of life.
Get your teen athlete on the right track. Order now from The GEM.
Some common enemies of athletic performance? Skipping breakfast, sugary drinks, snacking on nutrient-poor foods, and junk food in general. Look below for some tips on how to guide your teenage athlete to properly nourish the body pre- and post-game.
Teen Nutrition Tips for Achieving Optimal Sports Performance
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Even dehydration of 2 percent can have measurable negative effects on performance. It is recommended to drink at least 24 ounces of water two hours before exercise, and of course, drink water during and after. Water is best since sports drinks can be loaded with sugar, creepy preservatives and artificial food colorings. Our Perform Sports Drink is the PERFECT ALTERNATIVE to Gatorade and the like.
Eat 2 hours before training. Eat complex carbohydrates (i.e. whole wheat pasta, brown rice with vegetables, beans). Say NO to heavy proteins and unhealthy fats like fried food. The key is to consume a little bit of protein and some carbohydrates to stay energized during the game. Nervous stomach before a big competition? It’s still important to eat at least a small snack such as a banana or oatmeal.
Consume healthy fats. Sounds crazy but good quality fats take longer to digest and serve as an optimal source of fuel for your body. Healthy fats are strongly advised — such as natural peanut butter on apples or avocado in a smoothie.
Take your vitamins. A daily multivitamin is key. Look for organic ones, made from real food sources. Rainbow Light for Teens and Thorne are great brands you can pick up at the GEM.
Steer clear from fast food! Sure, it’s tempting to hit the drive through after school. But the food is a SERIOUS performance thief. Skip the Whataburger and head to healthy “fast food” choices like The GEM, Chipotle, or Panera, who have healthier, cleaner options.
Cook at home. A sure-fire way to make sure only healthy foods make it onto your teen’s plates. Don’t know how? Follow Alex Snodgrass over at The Defined Dish. She’s a genius for delicious, easy recipes. And she’s a Dallas GEM Girl!
Does all of that sound like a lot? Have no fear! We put together a handy list of healthy snack ideas.
Healthy Pre-Game Teen Nutrition Ideas
- Fruit. Oranges, frozen grapes, green apples or frozen banana medallions with nut butter.
- Green juice. Don’t underestimate the power of green juice! Packed with energizing nutrients that are delivered immediately into the bloodstream. Our Green Glow is a great pre- and post-game choice.
- Beans and rice. Think Chipotle style. Get even better benefits from The GEM’s Quinoa mixed with our Lentil Soup, our Three Bean Salad with Siete tortilla chips or Hummus with locally made Ohla crackers and veggies. These dishes deliver incredible complex carbs alongside powerful plant-based protein.
- Beet shots. increases endurance, reduces oxygen consumption, increases blood nitrate levels and reduces resting blood pressure.
- Healthy smoothies. Make these at home or order them from The GEM. Our Sparkleberry with mixed berries and banana is a total winner. Add protein and spinach to amp it up to gold medal status. Keep our bottled smoothies on hand.
- Oatmeal or healthy granolas. Our Early Bird or Marge Granola are low in sugar and deliver a one-two punch of good fats and protein. You can mix in plant-based yogurts like Siggis for a tasty protein and carbs.
- More ideas! Try this list! The homemade taquitos are awesome with Siete tortillas!
- Nutrition bars. These are an easy and convenient way to keep your teenage athlete fueled, but choose carefully—many have all kinds of toxic ingredients. Our clean favorites:
- Shanti Balance Bars
- Jubilee Granola
- PB & J Tosi Bars
- Yes Bars
Helping your sports aficionado eat healthy may seem hard but it will be well worthwhile on and off the field. That’s not to mention the added benefit to instilling healthy habits that will last a lifetime.