STAY HYDRATED! Sounds simple enough but dehydration is one of the quickest and most common ways to lose performance, lower energy levels and put your youngsters in those cranky moods. Have your young athlete drink at every  meal and between meals! When they are sweating they need to replace fluids and electrolytes! Here is are two easy charts to help guide where your athletes hydration is.

WATCH WHAT THEY ARE DRINKING: Hydration is important but certain fluids should not be in an athlete’s diet. Soda’s and other drinks that contain caffeine which actually acts as a diuretic increase the fluid and electrolyte loss. High sugar drinks and fruit punch style drinks contain a ton sugar which affect energy levels and contain a lot of bad calories which put on bad weight. Another negative to mention are all the artificial colorings and flavors in most drinks that in my opinion are bad for you!

OPTIONS: your best bet plain old water, seltzers with natural flavors, organic apple juice, organic grape juice, milk, lower calorie sports drinks both Gatorade and power aid have lower sugar options, coconut water is also a great option!

NEVER SKIP BREAKFAST: We have all heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It’s the first one that’s why it is so important, breakfast sets the day off with fuel for energy and recovery. When you are eating breakfast you are essentially breaking a fasted state. Hopefully your young athlete is getting around 10 hours of sleep. Ten hours with no nutrients is a long time for anyone never mind a fast moving young athlete. Breakfast should be a complete meal with carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. Great options I see healthy athletes using are oatmeal with whole milk, bananas, raisins and peanut butter in it. Whole grain/wheat toast with natural peanut butter, 2 eggs with American cheese scrambled. I love sneaking in a tablespoon of coconut oil where ever I can. It is a great source of healthy omeg-3 fats and mct oils which are great for brain function and energy! Stick to organic unrefined coconut oil.

NOT GETTING ENOUGH PROTEIN: Even young athletes need protein to recover! Quick options for good protein sources are a simple glass of milk, cheese sticks, nuts, yogurt (greek or organic if possible), ham slices, turkey breast slices.

Roller coaster are great for kids take a slice or two of ham or turkey lay them flat, put a slice of American cheese on them and roll! (Super secret trick!) I make 2 ham roller coasters and give them a small little bowl with 1 tablespoon of organic maple syrup to dip them in. They can’t say no!

NOT GETTING VEGETABLES  Finding ways to get adults to add vegetables is hard enough young athletes forget about it! But we still have to try as much as we can. Broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, green beans and squash are among the most nutrient dense vegetables. Finding ways to sneak them in is key to getting the vitamins and anti oxidants these vegetables contain. Some cool ways to sneak them in are in stir frys, on top of pizzas and finding a great dipping option. Kids tend to love ranch dressing and BBQ sauces any negatives from empty calories in salad dressing or bbq are outweighed by getting them to eat a cup or 2 of broccoli and carrots. The previous (Super sneaky trick) from protein works great with carrots!

NOT EATING ENOUGH EARTH GROWN WHOLE FOODS: now a days with rushing around everywhere food has become less nutritious and healthy. Remember brown paper bag lunches? They are few and far between now due to crazy schedules and the ability to grab a pre-made lunch to go. Many on the go or packaged food options are processed, full of artificial colors and flavors with chemicals and preservatives. Try using whole food options like apples, bananas and raisins. Buying granola in bulk and adding it to greek yogurt or natural peanut butter are great choices. When using pre-made or packaged foods try go organic they are more nutrient dense and usually healthier. Example: I bet you, you or your young athlete can smash down 3-5 dunkin donuts! (Some of you are saying 3-5? more like 12 we have all been there) But how many apples can you eat? Apples are nutrient dense, sweet, juicy, won’t give you an energy crash and will keep you fuller much longer!

TIMING OF MEALS WITH SPORTS: 30 -90 minutes before is a great time for a granola bar and some fruit or a sandwich on wheat or whole grain bread. Add a big glass of water to that pre-game meal as well! ALWAYS send them with water or sports drink for their session especially in summer weather. The closer in time to practice or game the smaller the snack or meal you want to give them. Sometimes time constraints can make it almost impossible so get them whatever you can in a pinch. Try to avoid sending them to practice or a game on an empty stomach at all costs! Postgame or post-practice you want to fuel them up ASAP! This is the best time for sports drinks to replenish the electrolytes and simple carbohydrates. Post exercise is a very important time for protein as well to rebuild their muscles and start the recovery process. Chocolate milk is one of the best options for post workout nutrition and when was the last time they turned down that?

Ok that’s a lot of NOT’S AND NEVER’S I know! Don’t stress your young athlete is fine! Take baby steps 1st week just try getting breakfast in every morning, a glass of water at every meal and post exercise nutrition. Week 2 let’s cut out soda, add a few roller coasters and find a dressing or sauce your athlete might be interested in. Quick tip a bbq sauce that he or she likes on chicken will carry over in taste for veggies. Week 3 cut out sugary fruit drinks and punches get away from processed food or pre-packaged foods for a couple days. Week 4 start buying more organic foods. Start with only the ones you use the most maybe just milk at first to lessen the cost difference. Good luck and enjoy the summer!