Nutrition and Nutrient Timing: Elevate a Young Athlete’s Performance with these Two Strategies
As youth sports become more and more competitive, young athletes search for strategies to become more competitive at their chosen sport. Usually, this training includes physical workouts specifically designed to increase strength, agility and endurance for elite level competition. However, physical training is not enough to realize results. Athletes must also use nutrition to properly fuel the body’s needs pre and post workout, pre and post-game time. In fact, adding proper nutrition and nutrient timing, strategically and consistently, can propel a young athlete’s sports performance from average to elite.
To perform well in their sport, it’s important for athletes of all ages to consume proper nutrition. The need is greater for a young athlete because during the adolescent years their bodies are growing and still developing. Combine that with the intensity of playing competitive sport, if the child is malnourished they can be left feeling fatigued, ill, and will certainly not perform well during workouts or during game time. Additionally, without a balance of key nutrients and fluids, bone growth and proper organ functions can be negatively affected.
When I was young girl playing competitive tennis, I remember my father telling me “your body is as important as your racquet. Both need to be in top condition for the battle!” At that time I didn’t have as much clarity on that statement. I do now and have repeated it many times to my own children and my clients. That’s around the time when I get into the nitty gritty of nutrient timing and we have a lesson on the relationship between a successful athlete and their nutrition: micronutrients, macronutrients, the building blocks for healthy bodies, strong athletes.
Micronutrients are commonly referred to as dietary vitamins and minerals. They are consumed in tiny doses and are vital for healthy organ function. Examples of these vitamins include A, B-complex, C, D, E and K. Examples of dietary minerals include copper, selenium, sodium and zinc… just to name a few. Macronutrients are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and are consumed in larger quantities. Foods sourced with these three compounds fuel the caloric reserve and building blocks required to supply and maintain the energy needs of a human being. The needs of an athlete, especially a youth athlete, are more specific by demand.
A balance between nutrient intake (micros and macros) and energy expenditure will fuel a young athletes growing body while meeting the physical demands of their chosen sport. A deficiency in any area will appear in the body’s inability to grow, recover, and repair from workouts as well as impede the desired progress in athletic performance.
Equally important to a young athlete’s nutrition, is the timing throughout the day when certain nutrients are consumed. That is referred to as Nutrient Timing. Understanding the athlete’s sport and daily schedule determines the nutritional needs and timing requirement for peak athletic performance. For example, a stop-and-go sport athlete, such as a tennis or football player, requires different conditioning, physically and nutritionally, in order for the body to perform, repair and recover than that of an endurance sport athlete, such as a marathon runner or cyclist. Different sports push and pull the body differently and therefore require specific nutritional needs to perform optimally.
As a fitness professional, I have found that many young athletes only need a few shifts in dietary habits to experience measureable progress in their athletic performance. Others may need more direction and dissection of their nutritional requirements. In either case, adding a nutrition plan with a nutrient timing strategy will fuel the body with purpose and provide the athlete a comprehensive fitness plan. Finally, teaching the young athlete the importance of healthy nutrition, is a solid step towards motiving them to make it a priority in their sport as well as in life.
About Nickie Summers
Nickie is a licensed Personal Trainer, certified in Nutrient Timing for Athletic Performance. For the past 5 years, she’s coached people to look and feel their best. Some of her clients include high school athletes who graduated on to play their sport in college, women and men who individually released over 100lbs, and brides-to-be who transformed their bodies and health before their wedding and for life. Nickie works with chiropractors and bariatric counsellors sharing the vision to their clients on how to incorporate a healthier lifestyle by weaving mind-set, nutrition and movement to up-level actions to achieve goals. Nickie is a published author of a children’s book and is blessed with two adult children who fill her world with love and laughter. Currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia, Nickie is the founder of Its In Your Reach, a global health and wellness company.
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