Fueling Up! Pre & Post Exercise Nutrition for the Young Athlete by Jeff Nelson, CPT
Research shows that much of our hard work in a training session can be negated by improper nutrition, especially in the pre- and post-workout phases. As a personal trainer and soccer coach, one of the frequent questions I hear is a variation of "How can I best prepare my child for their training with proper nutrition?"
Much has been written about nutrition and it is a huge topic with many variables, so this article will narrow the focus to pre- and post-workout.
The body requires a proper combination of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals to perform at its peak and achieve the athlete's performance demands. A proper average ratio of the macronutrients would be 50 - 70% carbohydrates, 15 - 30% protein and 10 - 30% fats.
Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day - it replenishes the glycogen stores reduced through the "fasting" of overnight sleep (hence the term "break fast"). Glycogen is essentially our body's fuel and in the morning our glycogen stores are lowered by as much as 80%!
Pre-Workout - Fill the Tank
When you eat before you train, you are able to train at a higher intensity, longer. You want to consume a slightly higher ratio of carbohydrates to build up those glycogen stores, and protein to prepare the body for the post-workout recovery process.
A basic rule of thumb is that the closer you get to your session, the more digestible your meal needs to be. For example at 1 hour grab half a turkey sandwich or other whole food, or at 30 minutes an energy bar, or if inside 30 minutes make a quick shake of orange juice with whey protein. 8 oz and can be water-diluted orange juice as well.
Something is definitely better than nothing - eating something before a workout gives you more energy, allows you to train harder and to burn more calories.
Post-Workout Planning - Re-fuel
Eating after you train is the most important element of performance nutrition. Training taxes your energy stores, which dehydrates your body and breaks down your muscle. By eating within 30 - 60 minutes after your session, you shift your body from breakdown into recovery. For youth athletes a rough 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein is good (e.g. 30g carbs and 15g protein), with liquid form preferred because it is easier to digest, and travels to your muscles faster, speeding up the recovery process.
To perform at a high level you also need to make rest a priority. Sleep is the primary time when the body goes into repair and healing mode. Training and performance taxes the mind as well as the body and research again shows that we do not perform as well mentally without appropriate rest.
A proper cool-down is also necessary. It quickens the recovery process and minimizes post-training stress. The cool-down is key to neutralizing the effects of our training and returning our body to its normal state.
Proper hydration is absolutely critical to peak performance. In general, I recommend athletes who are in high school or club sport training to target at least a gallon of water a day, especially while in season and peak training. The recommendation for the general population is 96 oz before all the other variables of temperature, humidity, altitude, etc come into play. For youth ages 10 and older, 64 - 96 ounces is pretty good.
Before: 16 oz two hours before exercise
During: match your sweat rate (about 4-6 gulps for every 20 minutes of exercise, or approximately 20 to 40 oz of fluid every hour)
After: 20 oz of fluid for every pound of body weight lost during the session
Drink plenty of water, get plenty of sleep, eat something before you train and then post-workout get in that cool down and grab your snack or shake to optimize recovery and prepare your body for the next training session, or to feel better when you hit the waves (after all, we are talking about youth and Hawai`i - train to live, not live to train, right?!).
To your health... Jeff
Jeff Nelson is a Certified Personal Trainer and former professional soccer player and collegiate National Goalkeeper of the Year. He is the founder of ASPIRE Functional Training on the island of Kaua`i and utilizes the ADAPT training system to train the human body to perform within its functional design, unlocking the physical potential of the individual to be fully realized. ASPIRE develops and utilizes client-specific functional movement to restore the body to its original blueprint - a durable, pain-free, muscularly efficient machine capable of elite athleticism or just "doing life better." Jeff@ASPIRE-FiT.com, 503.880.3877, www.ASPIRE-FiT.com
Berning JR, Steen SN. Nutrition for Sport and Exercise. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers, 1998.
Berning JR, Steen Sn. Nutrition for Sport and Exercise. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers, 1998.
Convertine VA, Armstrong LE, Coyle EF, Mack GW, Sawka MN, Senay LC Jr, Sherman WM. ACSM position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1996; 28(1):i-vii.
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