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Proper food and hydration helps prepare young athletes

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Posted: Wednesday, August 8, 2012 12:00 am

Many students are back in school, and some are gearing up for a new year of sports. The body performs best when it is fed and hydrated well. Timing and food/drink choices make a big difference for good performance. These guidelines are designed for teens, but can be applied to younger team players by reducing by a third or a half, depending size/age.

A pre-game meal should be eaten three to four hours before an event. High in low-glycemic carbohydrates (whole-grain bread, cereal, crackers, brown rice, oats, pasta, vegetables and fruit), moderate lean protein, low fat and low fiber is recommended. This is not the time for fatty, fried, heavy meals. Fat slows digestion, so it stays in your stomach longer and requires more blood flowing to your digestive system versus to your heart, lungs and leg/arm muscles where it's most needed. This meal should be 500 to 700 calories. Ten to 20 ounces of water will help hydrate your body. Muscles will fatigue first from lack of hydration, then lack of nutrition. It's very important to go into an event with "fluid on board." Timing is key.

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