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Help Fuel Your Little Athlete’s Summer Activities in a Healthy Way

By Jessa McClure
By Jessa McClure                    

Teenager With BasketballMore than 40 million kids participate in organized sports every year, and many of these dedicated little athletes will be braving the scorching summer temperatures to participate in the games they love. In order to keep these young competitors fueled for their games and athletic events, parents should be monitoring what they eat and drink.

Southwest Sports Medicine & Orthopedics athletic trainer, Carlee Cohen, ATC, LAT, offers caregivers some tips to keep their children energized and safe:

1. Fuel-Up Before the Game

Provide your child with a snack that is a great source of Vitamin C like oranges, kiwis or grapefruit juice. They should also be working on getting hydrated and filling their body with electrolytes by drinking water and Gatorade.

2. Keep Hydrated During the Game

Hydration is really important for maintaining energy and keeping your child from developing heat exhaustion. Cohen said kids will often try to sneak in a soda or drink only Gatorade during a game because it tastes better than just water. But this can be detrimental to their hydration, especially in the heat of the day. She recommends drinking two waters for every one Gatorade.

3. Maintain Electrolyte Levels

It's important to make sure your child gets enough electrolytes. This can be accomplished by drinking Gatorade or pickle juice, or eating foods like bananas.

4. Feed Them Energy-Giving Foods

While fueling your little athlete before and after the game is vital, it is also important to give them healthy, energy-giving foods at regular meals. Dark, leafy greens are an excellent source of iron and other important nutrients. And if your child isn't too excited about eating spinach, you can try making them a salad or offering them broccoli with a little cheese on top.

5. Monitor Caloric Intake

It is important to have a good caloric balance, especially when participating in high-endurance activities like soccer, running or two-a-day football practices. Cohen said if children are just eating what they eat on a normal basis, it might not be enough to fuel the amount of exercise they are doing.

6. Bring a Healthy Snack for After the Game

While the healthiest options aren't always the most popular choice, it is important for kids to get a nutritious snack after participating in an athletic event. Granola bars, fruit snacks and apple slices are a great option for a "team snack."

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Categories:  Kid's Health & Safety

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