All young athletes are driven to be the best at their game but what they don’t realize is a key component to their success is the right nutrition. According to Jenna A. Bell-Wilson, a certified specialist in sports nutrition, “young athletes with inadequate diets may have insufficient fuel for workouts, nutrient deficiencies that could lead to illness or fatigue, a decrement in bone growth and maintenance, and may not reach their potential for muscle growth all reflected in their overall performance.” 1.
Living in Colorado we are surrounded by teen athletes at every turn whether they are training for another triathlon or mountain bike race or a Junior Olympics Ski Event. And the biggest question from parents is how do I make sure my athlete is getting the nutrients they need?
Sports Success Starts with Good Nutrition
In my mind, setting these kids up for success not only starts on the field but in the kitchen! I always tell my boys that starting their day with a nutrition packed breakfast will fuel their bodies for the day ahead not only in the classroom but on the field. Many teen athletes start their day with a quick fix – a toasted bagel or a bowl of their favorite cereal or a power bar or nothing at all! We have all learned that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and why should it be any different for a young teen athlete. In fact, it is even more important for our growing athletes who use considerable amounts of energy in their sports performance.
Mental and Sports Performance Improve with a Healthy Breakfast
Not only has breakfast been shown to boost our energy and metabolism, breakfast eaters have higher concentration, increased problem-solving capabilities and a higher overall mental performance than non-breakfast eaters — all benefiting our young athletes both in the classroom and on the field.
According to Jen Ochi of the Cleveland Clinic, a healthy breakfast for a teen athlete should have between 500 and 750 calories which equates to an egg burrito with 2-3 scrambled eggs, tomato, spinach, avocado all wrapped up in a tortilla or 2 cups of oatmeal topped with nuts, seeds and seasonal fruit or a smoothie filled with fresh fruit, nut or seed butter and yogurt. Keep in mind if you have less than two hours in between breakfast and training, you will want to eat a lighter breakfast such as a smoothie or granola bar (see below) then pack in the nutrients during lunch!
Good Sports Nutrition Made Easy with Powerhouse Ingredients
Breakfast doesn’t have to be too complicated. Whipping up a smoothie, a bowl of oatmeal or breakfast burrito will do! Just be sure to include the three powerhouse ingredients:
- Nut or seed butters
- Raw nuts or seeds
- Ground flaxseeds or chia seeds
- Whole yogurt, cottage cheese or sliced cheese
- Wild Fish: salmon, halibut,
- Nuts and seeds
- Olive oil, Coconut oil
- Brown Rice / Wild Rice
Here are some of our favorite nutritional packed breakfast recipes to start your young athletes day off to an energy boosting start!
Rice or Quinoa Bowl
Make rice or quinoa ahead of time. In the morning, heat a little butter or olive oil in a saucepan then add 2 cups rice or quinoa and heat for 5 minutes. To make savory, top with chopped herbs and goat cheese or to make sweet top with a bit of maple syrup, a sprinkle of cinnamon, berries and toasted nuts or seeds.
Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos
Prep vegetables of choice (we like red pepper, onion, spinach, sweet potatoes). First add 1-2 T of olive oil or coconut oil to a pan and sauté 2 diced potatoes with a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper until soft. Set aside. Then add in other veggies and sauté 3-5 minutes. Set aside.. Then scramble 12-14 eggs and set aside (you can also used boiled eggs – just peel and chop them into the burritos). Now assemble burritos. You will need 16-20 large tortillas of choice, salsa and cheese of choice. Place about ½ cup to a cup of all ingredients, top with cheese and a dollop of salsa then wrap each burrito in foil. Store prepared burritos in freezer until ready to reheat and eat for a one powerful breakfast!
Chocolate Muscle Shake
Blend 1 banana, ½ cups raw cashews or raw sunflower seeds, 2-3T unsweetened cocoa powder, ¼ cup raw cacao nibs, 1½ cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 T coconut oil, and a large handful of ice cubes. Serves 2.
* Optional ingredients: 1 T nut butter, 1 T ground chia seeds, ¼ cup fresh or frozen berries or cherries, scoop of whole food protein powder, handful of spinach.
- Stracciolini A et al. A closer look at overuse injuries in pediatric athlete. Clinical Journal of Sports Med. 2014.
First Published in the ParentInsider.com on March 29th, 2016.