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Sport Nutrition Education No. VII - Sport Nutrition For Young Athletes

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Sport Nutrition For Young Athletes

As a young athlete, you need to pay special attention to your diet. Two goals need to be met:

  1. Adequate energy and nutrient requirements for your daily activity.
  2. Adequate energy and nutrient requirements for growth.

For 11 - 18 year old adolescents, nutrient requirements are as follows:

Nutrient Male Female
Vitamin A 1000ug 800ug
Vitamin D 10ug 10ug
Vitamin E 10mg 8mg
Vitamin K 45-65ug 45-55ug
Vitamin C 50-60mg 50-60mg
Thiamin 1.3-1.5mg 1.1mg
Riboflavin 1.5-1.8mg 1.3mg
Niacin 17-20mg 15mg
Vitamin B6 1.7-2.0mg 1.4-1.5mg
Folate 150-.200ug 150-180ug
Vitmain B12 2.0ug 2.0ug
Calcium 1200mg 1200mg
Phosphorous 1200mg 1200mg
Magnesium 270-400mg 280-380mg
Iron 12mg 15mg
Zinc 15mg 12mg
Iodine 150ug 150ug
Selenium 40-50ug 45-50ug

Reference: USRDA 1989

Healthy eating guidelines for the young athlete:

  1. Eat a wholesome breakfast. Mix and match with the following:
    1. Carbohydrate foods: whole wheat bread, breakfast cereal, noodles in soup, plain bun
    2. Dairy foods: low fat cheese, low fat / skim milk, calcium fortified soy milk, yogurt
    3. Fruits: orange, apple, banana
    4. Meats: eat ham, egg occasionally, cook with little or no oil
    5. Vegetables: add some vegetables to the noodles or sandwiches
  2. Eat healthful snacks at school.
    1. apple or some crackers or some bread
    2. soy milk, water, fruit juice, low fat / skim milk
  3. Lunch recommendation:
    1. Make carbohydrate the focus of your meal: Eat more rice, pasta, noodles, do not just have a big piece of steak or chicken with French fries.
    2. Eat vegetables whenever possible: Order green leafy vegetables in Chinese type eatery and have some mixed vegetables in Western type eatery.
    3. Order foods which are lower in fat. E.g. choose meats with less fat (pork chop, roast beef, sliced beef, steamed chicken are usually lower in fat); choose tomato based sauce or soup; choose foods which are not fried; choose fruits as dessert.
  4. Dinner recommendation:
    1. If not enough fruits and vegetables have not been eaten during the day, try to make up at dinner.
    2. Make carbohydrate you focus.
    3. If the meat requirement is met during the day, eat less meat at dinner.
    4. Cook with less oil.
  5. Timing of meals:
    1. Large meal - finish 4 hours before exercise
    2. Medium meal - finish 3 hours before exercise
    3. Small meal - finish 2 hours before exercise
    4. Light snack - finish 1 hour before exercise
  6. Choice of beverage:
    1. Drinking too much soft drink is a common concern of young adolescents. Although soft drinks are not banned from a healthful diet, other more nutritious choices are available, e.g. low fat milk, soy milk, yogurt drinks, pure fruit juice, water etc.
  7. Choice of snacks:
    1. Snacks which adolescents like to eat are usually high in fat, sodium and sugar, e.g. potato chips, chocolate, ice cream, sweets, chicken wings, sausages etc. Choose more nutritious snacks like small packets of breakfast cereals, bread, fruits, yogurt, steamed corn, low fat biscuits etc.
  8. Please refer to the Sport Nutrition Education No. II "Guidelines to a Healthful Diet".

Nutrition Guidelines For Exercise

Before training or competition:

  1. Eat a small snack if time permits. E.g. sports drink and bread or crackers or a piece of fruit.
  2. Pre-exercise food choice
    1. high carbohydrate
    2. low fat
    3. moderate protein
    4. adequate fluid
    5. appropriate portions
    6. familiar foods
    7. hygienic

Before a competition, one may choose any of the following meals:

Example one:
Spaghetti in meat sauce, vegetable soup, bread, orange juice
Example two:
Tuna sandwich, soy milk, banana
Example three:
Rice with vegetable and beef, honey lemon beverage, orange

During training or competition:

  1. Follow fluid replenishment guidelines. Please refer to the Sport Nutrition Education No. IV "Water-the fountain of life".

After training or competition:

  1. Replenish with 1.5 grams carbohydrates per kg of body weight within two hours after exercise to refill glycogen storage in the body.
  2. If appetite is poor after exercise, one may replete nutrition with beverages.
  3. Replenish with at least 500 ml of fluid for every 0.5 kg of weight loss during exercise.

For more information, please contact:
Sport Nutrition Unit
Telephone: (852) 2681 6277