Most people think that nutrition for kids is different than nutrition for an adult, but this is not the case. Kids are obviously still growing and their nutrition can play a key role in their future body composition- but the following is a brief rundown on energy sources for optimum performance.
The main energy source that the body will use first is carbohydrates. The body will actually convert 100% of carbohydrates into glucose, but the key for optimal performance is to provide the right fuel at the right time. To put it simply, think of carbohydrates in two forms… complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates take the body longer to digest therefore taking it longer to convert into glucose. Simple carbohydrates are the quick fixes… the fast way to provide energy to the body.
It is optimal for your daughter to consume a complex carbohydrate (slow digesting) such as oatmeal, 2 hours before and a simple carbohydrate (quick digesting) such as chocolate milk or juice, 30 minutes prior to her game or practice. This will ensure she is getting enough carbohydrates prior to any type of exercise… it’s hard and not ideal for people to consume 50-75 grams of carbohydrates in one meal.
It’s also important to provide an energy source within 1-2 hours after demanding physical activity. This will help replenish glycogen stores and repair muscle tissue. I would suggest 3-4oz of lean meat or poultry with fruit, trail mix or chocolate milk.
These are just the basics for fueling up for game time or to hit it hard at practice, but it’s a great start!