Child athletes have increased dietary requirements, but more for carbohydrates than for any other food group

More and more kids are taking up athletics seriously, and that means hours of practice every day. Their nutrition requirements obviously differ from that of other kids. Without the right food, a child's performance may suffer. However, the child athlete does not require expensive processed foods and food supplements. You can cook up the meal for a future star right in your kitchen, with basically the same ingredients you use to cook for the rest of the family. Child athletes need a balanced diet just as other kids. The diet should contain protein (meat, eggs, fish and pulses), carbohydrates (grains), fat (oil, nuts), vitamins (fresh fruit and vegetables), minerals and fibre. Child athletes have increased dietary requirements, but more for carbohydrates than for any other food group.

Monitor their weight

Parents often equate protein with muscles and unnecessarily overload the child with meat. Too much protein can damage the kidneys. A child athlete can burn up so many calories that there aren't enough calories left for tissue growth and repair. Parents should monitor their child's weight and growth regularly to make sure sports isn't biting into growth. Extra calcium and iron are essential for serious sports practice. Children lose iron in sweat, and growing bones need extra calcium to be extra dense. Pubertal girls need more iron to replace menstrual losses. Milk, curd and leafy vegetables are good sources of calcium. Meat, eggs and dried fruit are good sources of iron. Children require frequent small meals because their stomachs cannot hold much food, and in-between meals are a necessary and important source of nutrition. Parents should ensure these are healthful foods in their own right. Nuts, fruit juice, dried fruit and fresh fruit make healthful snacks. Parents should teach their children to drink water before, during and after practice. Fruit juice is a good substitute for water. Dieting to attain a target weight is not a good choice for a child. Children should be eating healthful, balanced meals every day of their lives. Let extra activity take care of extra weight.

RAJIV. M

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