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Feel tip-top with ten top tips for healthy sports nutrition and hydration

1_GIVE EXTRA, GET EXTRA All children need calories to fuel the healthy development of their bodies and brains. Children doing a lot of sport, however, need to fuel their basic growth and development as well as their sport. In fact, children training for as little as an hour a day need around 500 extra calories.


While the odd doughnut or packet of crisps won’t do much harm, processed and salty foods as part of the everyday diet can become addictive and won’t encourage long-term health and wellbeing. These foods are packed with quick-release carbohydrates, energy which is absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream, causing a spike in energy followed by a dramatic slump. Of course, once the slump occurs, the child will grab more convenience food and the spiral continues. Slow-release carbohydrates, however, made from fresh, natural ingredients, such as oats, wholegrains, most fruit and vegetables are generally more nutritionally balanced and will sustain energy levels for longer. They’ll also promote muscle growth and boost the mood.


This banana recovery shake – enough for one large glass - has the ideal carbohydrate / protein ratio to kick-start the recovery process; carbohydrate to replenish glycogen levels, protein to repair muscle cells. Quickly and easily digested, it is light on the stomach, virtually fat-free and packed with vitamin C and B6 and essential minerals like potassium and calcium to replace lost body salts. Put an egg white, 200ml of skimmed milk, a roughly-chopped banana (the riper the better), two ice cubes (or a tablespoon

of crushed ice), one teaspoon of honey and an optional squeeze of lime or three teaspoons of drinking chocolate into a blender and blend at full speed until smooth. Pour into a chilled glass and drink – and recover!


While budding sports stars may be very keen to train as much as possible, adequate rehydration, refuelling and rest is absolutely crucial. It is when the body is resting that the muscles heal, regain strength, adapt and grow. Children should be encouraged to eat well, drink plenty and rest after both intense training and competition.


Children have inadequate thirst mechanisms, often forgetting to drink and easily becoming dehydrated. Ensure they drink before, during and after exercise to keep their hydration levels topped up - water is normally suffi cient. As children start sweating during exercise, the core body temperature increases. This causes a decrease in blood volume which is necessary for carrying blood to the heart. There is consequently less oxygen- rich blood available to fuel the working muscles. Performance, concentration and co-ordination can deteriorate with even mild dehydration. Budding sports stars can monitor their own hydration by checking whether their urine is a pale straw colour. If it is dark they will need to drink some more - a “pee chart” can be printed off from the internet.

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