10 Good Nutrition Habits for Young Athletes | Youth1

10 Good Nutrition Habits for Young Athletes

Habit No. 1: Eat every three hours

If all you eat is breakfast, lunch and dinner, you are setting yourself up for energy spikes and lulls throughout the day as your body first reacts to sugar influx, then waits for the next huge dose. By simply adding a more substantial pre- and post-workout meal, you're on your way to eating more often.

Habit No. 2: Eat complete meals

All you need are the three basics -- carbohydrates, protein and fat -- but you need them at every meal because they work together to give athletes energy. Plus, you'll be fuller and more satiated eating that way.

Habit No. 3: Have a good breakfast5-healthy-breakfast-ideas

Breakfast can raise your metabolism for the whole day -- so steer clear of the sugar that you will find in most breakfast drinks, such as orange juice and grande Mocha Frappuccinos.

Habit No. 4: Eat veggies with every meal

There's no need to take a multi-vitamin if you can adopt this one. Vegetables should be your primary source of carbohydrates since they release sugar and energy slowly. McGill said that it's almost impossible to overeat vegetables, so saddle-up to that side of the buffet and have at it.

Habit No. 5: Don't drink calories

When McGill consults with pro athletes who primarily need to lose weight, the first thing he tells them to do is stop drinking soda, juice, energy drinks and creamy coffees. Free refills may seem like a good idea for those trying to pinch pennies, but it's too easy to pack on liquid calories if you don't monitor your intake.

Habit No. 6: Eat protein at every meal

Protein is the key to repairing muscle, but make sure you pick the right ones. As a general rule, the fewer legs the animal has -- fish as opposed to chicken as opposed to pork or beef -- the better. Eat at least one serving with every meal.

Habit: No. 7: Eat fats that give back

Athletes need about 20 percent to 70 percent of their calories to come from healthy fats, because they actually can decrease your body fat and boost your immunity. Good fats come from olive oil, avocado and flax seed to name a few.

Habit No. 8: Have a plan

Most eating strategies are derailed because athletes don't plan their meals ahead of time. If you make your own food you'll know exactly what goes into it and how much you can have. Having healthy snacks such as nuts, jerky or fruit on-hand can go a long way to keeping your body lean.

Habit No. 9: Select your carbs with care

Carbohydrates are a common pitfall for athletes. If you want to have more muscle, carbs are OK, but if you want to lose fat, limit them. Most people don't realize that it's the bread on your hamburger or sandwich that is hurting your energy levels more than what is inside.
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Habit No. 10: Stick to 90 percent

When changing your eating strategy, don't try to change everything at once, because you'll get overwhelmed and fail. Stick to your healthy habits 90 percent of the time and give yourself the occasional treat that will keep you consistent for the long term.
 

This article was provided by USA Football and written by Rett Larson - director of coaching at Velocity Sports Performance and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Larson also serves as USA Football's expert in sports performance training.
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