Nutritional and Regeneration Advice

Nutritional Guide for Young Athletes

Advice from Dietician Adrienn Konyári

Is your child a talented athlete? Do you support him/her in everything and want the best for him/her? Do you want your child to be his/her most energetic and cheerful self?

And do you want to achieve all this while also ensuring that his/her performance in sports becomes outstanding? Then, we must acknowledge that one of the most important aspects of a child's life is proper nutrition, which basically determines almost everything. Below, I summarize what I feel is important for a family to pay attention to, so that your child doing sport on a regular basis is properly nourished.

Energy Requirements of Young Athletes

When determining the energy needs of the 11-14 year old athlete age group, body weight and physical activity level play an important role. For children who are neither undernourished nor have any extra weight, we adjust the energy needs based on their sense of hunger. If they do not eat enough or if they eat too much, their energy levels can significantly decrease, leading to underperformance. When determining nutrient intake there is another important factor which needs to be considered in case of children/teenagers, namely that they burn more fat and less carbohydrate than adults during exercise.

Considering the estimated energy requirements based on body weight and physical activity, and also differentiating children by their gender, we get the values shown on the right for 2 hours of training per day.
As this age group can already be considered tech savvy, they can easily learn to track their daily energy intake using various applications (e.g., Yazio, MyFitnessPal, Calorie Base).

Daily energy need of boys
35 KG – 2290 KCAL
45 KG – 2630 KCAL
55 KG – 2900 KCAL

Daily energy need of girls
35 KG – 2081 KCAL
45 KG – 2344 KCAL
55 KG – 2800 KCAL

Protein need of boys
35 KG – 42 G/DAY
45 KG – 54 G/DAY
55 KG – 66 G/DAY

Protein need of girls
35 KG – 38,5 G/DAY
45 KG – 49,5 G/DAY
55 KG – 60,5 G/DAY

Significance of Protein Intake

It's important to know that with proper nutrition, it's completely unnecessary for children to consume protein supplements (protein powders, shakes, protein bars). Therefore, adequate protein intake is essential, not to mention its’ impact on the growth and development of children. Unlike young people with low physical activity, children who practice sports have a higher protein need. According to the Ministry of Health, the recommendation is 1 g/body weight kg for non-athletic children, while for young male athletes it is 1,2 g/body weight kg/day and for female athletes 1,1 g/body weight kg/day. This requirement can ideally be met by dividing the intake amount over 3-4 occasions. Therefore, in addition to main meals, it is advisable to pay attention to protein intake during snack time. But what are those foods which are rich in protein? I recommend the following ingredients:

  • Lean meats (chicken, turkey, pork tenderloin, pork loin, lean veal and beef)
  • Sea and freshwater fish
  • Eggs
  • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils, corn, etc.)
  • Oilseeds (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, etc.)
  • Dairy products (yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, etc.)

For vegetarian children, it's especially important to include legumes, cereals, oilseeds, and soy products in their diet daily.

Recommended Carbohydrate Intake

Considering the training routine of this athlete age group, which can include 2 hours of intensive training per day, it's important to satisfy the athletes' daily carbohydrate needs. However, it does matter what ingredients we use for this. Considering the body weight and intensity, we can calculate with 5-7 g/body weight kg.

This amount can be easily covered if the following ingredients are included in their diet, meaning they consume one of the following carbohydrate sources five times a day:

  • Brown bread, rye bread, sourdough bread
  • Durum pasta, 8-egg pastas
  • Basmati rice, possibly brown rice (if we manage to make them prefer this type)
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes (avoid deep-fried ones)
  • Oatmeal
  • Oat flour, white spelt flour
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Milk and dairy products.

Carbohydrate intake
35 KG – 175-245 G/DAY
45 KG – 225-315 G/DAY
55 KG – 275-385 G/DAY

Recommended Fluid Intake and Replenishment

My experience shows that one of the biggest challenges for the younger age group is adequate fluid intake. This is essential for maintaining blood volume, regulating body temperature, transporting nutrients, and maintaining muscle balance.
For those engaged in physical activity, adequate fluid intake is particularly important because the body cools itself through sweating during exercise, which happens even when we talk about swimmers (yes, even though it may not be noticeable due to the surrounding water). Inadequate fluid intake and high fluid loss reduce physical and mental performance, increase blood pressure, and result in concentration disorders.
Therefore, we encourage our young athletes to drink 1-1.5 liters of water per day. They should drink an additional 300-500 ml 2-4 hours before training, and during the load, they should drink 75-100 ml of fluid every 10-20 minutes.
If the training lasts 60 minutes or less, then plain non-carbonated water is sufficient. If the training is more than 60 minutes long, then homemade sports drinks should be prepared for them.
If physical activity lasts more than 60 minutes, homemade sports drinks can be prepared following the recipes on the right.
It is critical to avoid the following on training and competition days:

  • Carbonated drinks
  • Ready-to-drink soft drinks (Sprite, Fanta, Apenta, IceTea, etc.)
  • Caffeinated drinks (caffeinated soft drinks, cola, energy drinks).

HOME MADE SPORT DRINK

 

DILUTED FRUIT JUICE
1-2 UNITS OF WATER + 1 UNIT FRUIT JUICE

 

FRUIT PUREE
6 UNITS OF WATER + 1 UNIT OG FRUIT PUREE

Recommended Vitamins

Nowadays, well-composed vitamin and mineral supplements are available commercially. With these, children can get enough vitamins and minerals. This way their growth, physical performance, and physical and mental development are not compromised. Try to choose such a product, which contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B12, C, D, E, folic acid, beta-carotene, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, zinc, and iodine.
However, we should not neglect a proper menu regimen either. It is important that the food we consume is rich in vitamins, so here are some great ingredients that are good sources of vitamins:

  • Vitamin A: liver, meat, eggs, milk, cheese, fish, butter
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine): liver, whole wheat, oat flour, peanuts, pork, legumes
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): liver, red meats, chicken, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): liver, red meats, nuts, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): liver, whole grain baked goods, brown rice, nuts, eggs, vegetables
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): liver, meat, dairy products, dry legumes, egg yolks, brown flour baked goods, corn, vegetables
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin): eggs, liver, unsalted oilseeds, whole grains
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): meat, fish, milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Vitamin C: fresh fruits, raw or steamed vegetables
  • Vitamin D: oily fish, olive oil, eggs, yogurt
  • Vitamin E: vegetable oils, liver, meat, eggs, sprouts, nuts, almonds, sweet potatoes
  • Folic acid: liver, sprouts, legumes
  • Beta-carotene: carrots, spinach, apricots, tomatoes
  • Calcium: milk, cheese, yogurt, green leafy vegetables (raw or steamed), legumes
  • Iron: red meats, liver, whole grain baked goods, pasta, legumes, green leafy plants
  • Zinc: meat, eggs, whole grain cereals, milk, dairy products
  • Magnesium: cereals, vegetables, fruits, potatoes, milk, dairy products

What should our children
eat on Training Days?

Establishing a daily nutritional routine is very important;
they should follow at least five meals a day.
4-6 servings of carbohydrate-rich food
3-4 servings of protein-rich food
4-5 servings of vegetables and fruits
2-3 servings of dairy products

It is advisable to have a meal an hour before training to ensure they have enough energy during training. At this time, they can consume:

  • Fresh fruits
  • A small sandwich (preferably with whole grain or rye bread)
  • Muesli bar
  • Oat cookies
  • Fruit yogurt
  • Dried/dehydrated fruits
  • Oat flour waffles/pancakes
  • Oatmeal.

How Should Children Eat Before and During Competitions?

It is difficult to establish a definite system during competitions because the recommended diet depends on the start of the competition or the number of events they participate in. Therefore, try to be flexible and pay special attention to meals before the competition. It is advisable to pack a variety food and snacks that the child can easily access during breaks or rest times, which he/she can consume calmly.
On the day before the competition, we can start filling the glycogen “warehouse”. This means that they need to consume high-carbohydrate foods. These include:

    • Salty pasta dishes (Bolognese spaghetti, vegetable pasta, tomato pasta)
    • Basmati rice (with fried meat and salad/steamed vegetables)
    • Potatoes (mashed or parsley; with fried meat and salad or roasted/steamed vegetables).

On the day of the competition, it is important that they have their breakfast 2-3 hours before the start. This will give them enough time to digest it. Recommended breakfasts:

    • Whole grain or rye bread with eggs and vegetables
    • Whole grain or rye bread with butter, ham, cheese, and vegetables
    • Whole grain bread or rye bread with cream cheese and vegetables
    • Oatmeal with fruit.

On the day of the competition, when they only have a short time between events, pack diluted fruit juice, banana, mandarin, orange, apple, or oat cookies, muesli bar for them.
If they have a longer time between two events, then you can pack the following for them:

    • Chicken/turkey breast ham sandwich made from whole grain or rye bread (avoid fattier salamis and sausages), with cheese and vegetables
    • Yogurt/yogurt drink with seeds or oat cookies
    • Oat flour waffle/pancake with peanut butter
    • Roll with honey
    • Roll with jam.

Regeneration and refueling after the competition are also very important, especially if the competition lasts several days. In such cases, it is recommended to have:

    • Oven-baked steak, potatoes or baked sweet potatoes with fried meat and salad/steamed vegetables
    • Tomato pasta
    • Bolognese pasta
    • Fried meat with rice and vegetables
    • Homemade hamburger with steak, potatoes, and fresh salad.

How Does Children's Energy Needs Change at Training Camps?

The usual daily training routine increases during training camps, so children's energy needs should be adjusted accordingly. The usual energy intake should be increased by 30%. Federations/clubs always solve the issue of the three main meals; the question mainly concerns the snack times. It is worth thinking in advance about what dry food the children can take with them to the training camp.
Considering the body weight and intensity, we can calculate with 7-9 g/body weight kg for carbohydrate intake.

35kg 227g – 318g/day
45kg 288g – 409g/day
55kg 357g – 495g/day

 

Considering body weight and intensity, protein intake is as follows for boys 1,5g/body weight kg, for girls 1,3g/body weight kg.

Boys
35kg 53g/day
45kg 68g/day
55kg 83g/day

Girls
35kg 46g/day
45kg 59g/day
55kg 72g/day


Things they can consume for snacks or during training breaks:

    • Proper fluid intake remains important
    • Oilseeds
    • Muesli bars
    • Dried fruit bars
    • There is always yogurt set out at the buffet breakfast; they can take it and eat it for a snack or lunch
    • Fruits