For millions of American children and teens playing sports, good nutrition is critical for maximum health, performance and normal growth.
Yet, with all the information available out there, it’s becoming harder than ever for a young athlete to filter truth from myth, and detangle the good from the bad and the ugly, says Amanda Leonard, M.P.H., R.D., a pediatric sports nutritionist at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
As a general rule, 20 to 30 percent of the calories in a young athlete’s diet should come from fat, 50 to 65 percent from carbohydrates and 15 to 20 percent from protein.
Dehydration among children playing sports is common, especially in the hot summer months, but may go unnoticed in its milder forms, Leonard says.
To avoid dehydration:
- Before exercise, drink 4 to 8 ounces
- During activity, drink 4 ounces every 15 minutes
- After exercise, drink 16 to 24 ounces per every pound lost
The dietary supplements are not tested by Food and Drug Administration before they reach the market, so their benefits and safety are not verified independently. Pediatricians should always ask young athletes whether they take dietary supplements because some can aggravate pre-existing conditions. Creatine, for example, can cause kidney damage in a child with pre-existing kidney problems.