Periodization refers to breaking something up into blocks or stages. With athletes, training is almost always periodized; meaning they have specific stages in training; each of which has a different goal. For example, these stages may look like:
During the competition season, there is usually not as much intense activity and conditioning going on. However, because the reason for competition season is, well um, competition; the athlete may have back to back weekends or even back to back days of competition. Therefore, during the competition season recovery becomes extremely important, so that athletes are ready to perform at their best for their next competition.
I realize that most athletes no longer have a dedicated “offseason”; however, what does fit into the offseason is injury. Obviously, activity level and goals change during injury. The number one goal should be to get the athlete better, so they can come back to their sport as strong or stronger than before.
The demands of these specific training periods put different strain and stress on the body; which means the nutrition needs change as well. Let’s use the example of a young gymnast, to see how nutrition needs change, based on the phase of training.
Say goodbye to summer, because… It’s back to school time for the kiddos! It’s easy to see why the summer flew by so quickly with baseball games, football practice start-ups, summer camps, swim lessons, and trips up north. The summers seem to be busier and more active than ever! Throughout all of these summer activities most parents are adamant about their kids staying hydrated and adequately fueled. Just because summer is coming to an end, this immaculate attention to nutrition and hydration should not falter – for you or your kids!
Children need healthy food and beverage choices even more throughout the school day to help them learn and grow. In fact, several studies indicate that sound nutrition is critical for providing the building blocks of the brain, like alpha-linoleic acid (omega-3 fatty acids), that help improve academic performance¹. As a registered dietitian who has worked in schools, I have oftentimes seen students bring foods from home that are laden in sugar, saturated fat, and too high in calories for one meal, which can actually decrease brain function.
Making sure your child takes off for school with a healthy lunch in hand, or planned from the school’s menu, is one of the most important things you can do for their health. School meals are healthier than ever, as the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 set meal and nutrition standards on all foods served to students – these include daily fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, and lean sources of protein; as well as parameters for calories, sugar, saturated fat, and sodium. However, if your child enjoys a packed lunch from home, here are some easy and healthy choices:
Banana and Sunbutter Roll Ups
Celery and Carrot Sticks with Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip
Low-fat or fat-free Milk
English Muffin Mini Pizzas
Romaine Salad with Green Goddess Yogurt Dressing
100% Fruit Juice
BBQ Chicken Sandwich
Greek Yogurt Coleslaw
Decaffeinated Unsweetened Iced Tea
Tuna Salad with Whole Grain Crackers
Bell Pepper Strips with Hummus
Cup of Grapes
Diluted Sports Drink (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.)
Corn and Black Bean Wrap
Salsa or Pico de Gallo with Baked Tortilla Chips
Fat-Free Flavored Milk
Turkey Burger on Whole Grain Bun
Baked Sweet Potatoes Fries or Wedges
Cinnamon Apple Slices
All of these fun and healthy lunch ideas are perfect for busy parents as well! Cook and assemble everything ahead of time, make enough for your entire family, and pack lunch for yourself as well! Here are some other easy grab and go options for busy parents. Enjoy!
1. Meeusen, R. (2014). Exercise, nutrition and the brain. Sports Medicine,44(1), 47-56.
The consumption of sports drinks, like Gatorade and Powerade, has become increasingly popular in children and teens over the last several years. Because of increased intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages overall, health professionals and parents have been asking whether sports drinks are helping or hurting America’s youth. Although, obesity rates in children have decreased slightly in recent years, childhood obesity is still considered an epidemic, and sugar-sweetened beverages have been deemed one of the culprits.
Let’s take a look at how sports drinks stack up against other popular beverages amongst children and teens:
Based on this information, sports drinks do have the lowest amount of sugar per 8 fluid ounces compared to other popular beverages. However, most sports drinks come in 32 fluid ounce containers or more, which would include approximately 16 or more grams of sugar. So, yes it may be smart to look for an alternative beverage choice for your children to avoid unnecessary amounts of added sugar and calories in their diets. Dental professionals are particularly leery of children consuming sports drinks on a regular basis because of the high sugar and high acidity in these drinks, which can lead to an increased risk of dental cavities, enamel erosion, and childhood obesity. Some healthy alternatives to these beverages include plain water, milk, or diluted flavored water and 100% juice.
So, what is the purpose of these beverages to begin with? Sports drinks contain carbohydrates (sugar) and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) and were designed to be used for physical activity that lasts longer than one hour to aid in hydration and recovery. Sports drinks are typically unnecessary if workouts are less than 60 minutes; however, research has found that sports drinks are beneficial when exercise lasts more than 60-90 minutes. Proper hydration is vital for young athletes and sports drinks may play a key role in this due to:
Because of these reasons, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages young athletes to drink sports drinks in order to replenish electrolytes, fluids, and carbohydrates lost during exercise lasting more than one hour. In addition, research has shown that when young athletes are provided plain water to drink after exercise they do not replace their fluid losses as well as when they are offered a flavored drink or a sports drink. The American College of Sports Medicine position stand on exercise and fluid replacement also encourages young athletes to consume sports drinks after vigorous exercise because the sodium present in these beverages replaces losses and heightens the desire to drink more, which aids in better recovery and hydration status.
In summary, if children are consistently drinking sports drinks socially, making the switch to a healthier beverage is warranted. In order to decrease the amount of added sugar and calories in children’s diets, the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages should be limited. However, for young athletes participating in exercise that lasts longer than 60 minutes, the consumption of a sports drink during and after exercise can help to replenish electrolyte, fluid, and carbohydrate losses. Ultimately this leads to better recovery and ability to perform at their best during other activities.
Allison Tropf, MS, RD, CSSD
Allison is a Sports Dietitian in Michigan. She enjoys helping others reach their nutrition and fitness goals through reliable and trustworthy recommendations.
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