Anyone who trains a lot needs energy. Sounds simple, but in practice this often turns out to be a difficult job. Especially with teenagers. The young sporting body, which is still under development, can cope with the heavy burden of a lot of training in combination with school. But good care is needed for this. The body is in growth, after all, a fragile phase in which injuries lurk. Bones get longer even muscles and tendons can hardly keep up with that rapid growth. A nutrition plan (preferably tailor-made) is needed to properly guide young athletes through this phase. In this blog we are going to elaborate on the role of carbohydrates.
What does a young athlete need?
A young athlete needs carbohydrates, a good amount of healthy fats, proteins preferably spread throughout the day. Surely, no need to mention the range of vitamins and minerals. They may need a smaller amount, but are essential for a nice growth of these young athletes. Growth in length also requires extra attention from food, such as sufficient energy, and carbohydrates play an important role in this.
Carbohydrates is the collective name for starch, sugar and fiber. Starch and sugar provide energy. One of which is slightly shorter and faster (sugar) and the other one is a bit longer and slower (starch). Fibers simply contribute to the functioning of active intestines. In addition to providing carbohydrates with energy for the young athlete, carbohydrates can also be used to supplement your glycogen reserves.
Sugar and starch are stored in the muscles (and liver) in the form of glycogen. This super fuel is the energy source that is used for fast and intensive effort. Starch should not be missing in the diet of young athletes. Filling glycogen, for intensive training and supplementing when the training lasts longer than 60 minutes is required. Especially when not one but two training sessions are on the agenda.
Try your best to keep it simple: eat a meal with carbohydrates 1 ½ or two hours before a workout. Brown rice, legumes, potato, whole-grain cereal with vegetables or whole-grain bread with toppings. They are all good alternatives and belong in the diet of young top athletes.
Just before a workout (15-30 minutes) the choice is made for the easy and fast carbohydrate variant: sugar. Especially choose products with natural sugars instead of added sugars. Fresh fruit, a slice of banana bread and not to mention a small homemade pancake with apple syrup or pureed fruit is almost always appreciated by young people.
The recommended amounts of foods are very personal and depend on many factors such as the length, intensity, and amount of workouts. Fitness trainer education also plays a role in how many carbohydrates are needed for a day. The differences per day can be large, on a training day you need more energy compared to a rest day. Good to take this into account!