Saturday, 20 Jul 2024

TrueSport: Eating After a Game or Practice

In the world of sports nutrition, there is a wealth of advice on what youth athletes should eat after a practice or competition. While opinions may differ, there is a consensus that consuming carbohydrates is crucial for replenishing the glycogen lost during physical activity. It is generally recommended to consume 0.65 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight within 30 minutes after exercise, followed by another carbohydrate-rich meal two hours later.

However, it’s important to note that protein also plays a vital role in recovery, especially for those engaged in high-intensity and resistance training activities that may cause muscle damage. Protein helps with muscle recovery and stimulates new muscle growth. To ensure a well-rounded post-competition snack, it’s advisable to include both protein and carbohydrates. Some examples of such snacks include fruit, peanut butter, granola bars, sandwiches, baked potatoes, chili, fruit smoothies, juices, and yogurt.

For a more substantial post-workout meal, a youth athlete could consider options like stir-fry with lean steak, broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, and brown rice, a rice bowl with beans, salsa, avocado, and whole grain chips or tortillas, or a whole wheat pita wrap with lean meat and veggies.

Timing and Hydration

When Youth Athletes Should Eat After Competing

Eating a snack rich in carbohydrates within 30 minutes after training allows the body to efficiently replenish glycogen stores, replenishing energy in the muscles. If a youth athlete has multiple training sessions or events within 8 hours of each other, it is crucial to eat shortly after the first competition to ensure the body feels repaired and rested for subsequent activities.

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Furthermore, consuming balanced meals within six hours after training or a competition supports ongoing glycogen repair and recovery. In cases where an athlete may not have a large appetite immediately after their event or practice, encouraging them to have a small snack or a sports drink is beneficial. They can then have a small meal around two to four hours afterward.

Hydrating After Competition

In addition to drinking fluids before and during exercise, athletes must also prioritize hydration after a workout or game. A general guideline is to drink three cups of fluid, preferably water, for every pound lost during competition or training. Smoothies made with yogurt and frozen fruit can provide a flavorful way to replenish fluids, carbohydrates, and calories.

Chocolate milk is another excellent recovery drink due to its balanced combination of carbohydrates and protein. It serves as a natural way to promote recovery without the need for supplements, helping athletes refuel and repair their bodies for subsequent workouts. Additionally, chocolate milk is a great source of calcium and vitamin D.

About TrueSport

TrueSport® is a grassroots movement driven by the values and experience of USADA—the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Its mission is simple yet powerful: to change the culture of youth sport by providing educational tools that equip young athletes with the resources to build life skills and core values for lasting success on and off the field. For more information and free educational resources to join the TrueSport movement, visit TrueSport.org.

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