The best source of energy for a young athlete is carbohydrates. Keep fat and protein amounts low, because they take longer to digest. Eat no sooner than two hours before a game or practice, because when your stomach is full, blood is sent there to help with the digestion process. Instead, it should be free to go to your muscles to keep them supplied with oxygen.
Simple sugars such as candy and soda eaten before a game may cause a swing in blood sugar levels instead of the quick energy boost you are hoping for.
Active young athletes need extra calories, and those should be consumed in the form of carbohydrates. Eaten a few hours before a game, they will supply plenty of energy.
PROTEIN is an important part of an athlete’s diet, but in moderation. Eating too much will NOT make your muscles bigger and stronger! Muscles increase in size under “stress” which means exercise. Protein is necessary for tissue building and repair. 2-3 glasses of milk, one serving of meat, fish or poultry and variety of whole grains and some vegetables is more than enough to meet daily protein needs. Spreading out protein intake throughout the day is a good idea, as too much protein taken at once can lead to dehydration. For this reason, stay away from protein powders and amino acid supplements.
FATS are an important part of an athlete’s diet also. Fats are necessary for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat also supplies essential fatty acids. Fats should take the form of mostly mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated, and should make up no more than 30% of the daily calorie intake.
VITAMINS AND MINERALS are needed to release energy from food, and get that energy to your muscles. They are found in the large amounts in fruit and vegetables (the fresher and more “unprocessed” the better) as well as meats and grains.
Vitamin and mineral supplements in pill form are readily available everywhere. They can be a good form of “insurance” in most people’s diets, in that they may provide additional nutrients. However, they should NEVER be relied upon to take the place of eating properly. Here are some reasons why:
There are many “good” components in food that are difficult to put into pill form, such as fiber.
The dietary supplement industry, i.e., companies who make vitamin pills, is largely unregulated. Therefore, it is very difficult to be sure exactly what, or how much of something you are getting.
Scientist has not yet identified all of the biologically active components in food. Therefore, they are not included in vitamin supplements, but occur naturally in food.
Removing and active substance from food and putting it into a pill, is unreliable because it is unclear if it will be taken up and used by the body in the same way it would be directly from food.
Our bodies function in a delicate balance. For example, calcium is more easily taken up and used by the body in the presence of vitamin D. Trying to balance this out in a pill might be difficult.
In the end, your body needs a wide variety of nutritious food to function properly. Eat well, take vitamin supplements if your parents and doctor approve, exercise, and you should find that you have plenty of energy and stamina.