Let’s take inspiration from this year’s Tour de France and the Rio Olympics and get kids moving this Summer. We explain why eating the right foods are important to maximise performance and give you 5 tips to best fuel kids’ exercise.
When it comes to performance carbohydrate is the body’s preferred fuel. When we eat carbohydrate rich foods we store this as glycogen in both our liver and muscles.
Carbohydrates digest and absorb into the bloodstream quicker than fats and proteins. When we exercise, the glycogen acts as our carbohydrate fuel to power our muscles efficiently.
Tip 1 – Before the kids do a full day of exercise, a dinner which includes complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain pasta, rice and bread is important. For kids, a simple meal of wholegrain pasta, chicken breast pieces, tomato sauce and peas sprinkled with a little cheese is ideal.
When we exercise we cause small tears in the muscles and in order to recover, we need to consume protein to repair and rebuild our muscles. In order to promote optimal rebuilding we should consume protein soon after exercise. Foods like chicken, turkey, beef, milk, natural yoghurt, nuts and seeds are great sources of protein,
Tip 2 – After a day of exercise, it’s important to get a quick source of protein, a fun way of doing this is to make up a protein smoothie for the kids (but no protein powder please) which makes them feel full, and is tasty too. We like this banana, peanut butter and cocoa recipe from the Taylor House.
The right type of fat is good for you, especially growing kids. It plays a number of key roles in relation to exercise, such as acting as an energy source and helping with the absorption of vitamins and minerals. From a recovery perspective, healthy fat sources such as omega-3 have shown to reduce inflammation and could potentially aid in the recovery process from exercise.
Tip 3 – After exercise: oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds are great sources of omega-3. For fussy eaters, and children that are allergic to peanuts, we really like the Nakd Nibbles, which are great for kids to munch in the car on the journey home.
These are vitamins and minerals and they can often be overlooked, however they are very important for maximising optimal performance during exercise.
Tip 4 – We have a whole section on vitamins and minerals, but these are the ones worth considering to fuel kids’ exercise:
This plays an important role in relation to bone health, immunity and muscle function. You can get this from direct sunlight, but these foods are also great sources of vitamin D.
Iron mineral plays an important role in transporting oxygen in the blood and muscles.
Calcium plays a key role alongside it’s friend Vitamin D to maintain healthy bones.
Lastly, it’s very important for kids to drink enough water, pre-exercise, during and post exercise. Too often drinks can be loaded with sugar, even the fruit based ones can contain too much sugar, which is bad for teeth and can spike their blood sugar.
Tip 5 – Try mixing juice like pineapple or cherry, which are also high in potassium, with half water to make it more palatable than pure water.
Overall, making sure the kids’ get a balanced meal at breakfast, lunch and dinner will help ensure that they are getting all the right nutrients to fuel kids for exercise.