The Best Foods For Young Athletes


Active Member
3 Jun 2011
The connection between nutrition and athletics has been well documented, but good nutrition is virtually unpracticed. It is not uncommon for a young athlete to have a burger and French fries before a big game and think nothing of it. But the correlation between optimal performance and an optimal diet for young athletes has been established long ago. It is no surprise that optimal athletic performance requires the proper food and nutrient intake, tailored to that individual, and the individual’s sport as well. Many young athletes today typically gravitate toward eating patterns that are not only unhealthy, but which decrease their chances of optimal performance. If this is your son’s or daughter’s case, it may be time you try a different approach.

The daily calorie intake for every young athlete should be congruent with the sport they play, their gender and age, and also their size and shape. Even children in Aspen, where there may not be many warm weather sports year round, need sufficient energy for skiing and snowboarding. Young athletes, even more than regular young people, need more energy and calories for their growing bodies. If a young athlete has far too few calories than is needed for the body to develop, it could even be damaging to their bodies. It is said that the average girl and boy athletes under the age of 13 need about 2000 2300 calories per day, while girls from 14 18 may need about 2400 2500. But it is no surprise that as the young male’s body grows at a rapid pace, the young athlete needs even more calories to keep up. The average caloric intake for a young male athlete 14 18 years old is about 3,200 calories a day.

Now just because the young athlete needs more calories than a normal person this doesn’t mean that all calories are good. Carbohydrates are the young athletes’ best food source. Carbohydrates work to rapidly break down blood sugar (glucose), which is the body’s primary energy source. The brain, nervous system, and largely all the muscles are fed primarily by glucose. Inadequate carbohydrate intake can lead to fatigue, low energy levels, not to mention a less than optimal performance. It is important for a parent to know, however, the proper intake of carbohydrates in relation to other foods. Carbohydrates should make up around 60 of your young athlete’s diet, with starches and grains being the bulk of that 60 . These are foods like pasta, breads, potatoes and rice.

The young athlete’s body also needs a steady supply of protein as well. Proteins are the building blocks of young muscles and other body tissue that is most vulnerable during this young age. Protein is a less efficient energy source than carbohydrates, but it is no less important. Protein should take up roughly 15 25 of the daily total calories with foods like fish, eggs, lean meats, and poultry being eaten regularly. Fats are important to the young athlete’s diet as well. Good sources of healthy fat are meats, olive oil, nuts, and some dairy products.

Whether you have children in Aspen or New York, whether they play winter or summer sports, make sure your young athletes are getting the proper nutrients so they may enjoy their favorite sport even more.

Written by: Chef Shael
Author Resource:- Chef Shael Berni offers cooking classes for kids in Aspen, Colorado. Her goal is to teach children to eat healthy and stimulate their creativity, while they have fun with food! Her motto is, “Smart Foods for Smart Kids!†Find out more about these healthy habit programs at
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