A healthy diet and good eating habits are essential for a young athlete's development and performance.
Jackie Berning, Ph.D, a registered dietician and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who serves as a member of the US Lacrosse Sports Science & Safety Committee, notes that for athletes in season and for those engaged in daily workouts, consuming carbohydrates within 30 minutes after exercise and again after two hours can help muscles reload and rebuild by replacing glycogen up to 50% quicker. Berning cites chocolate milk as an excellent source for this energy replenishment among younger athletes.
Recovery nutrition is not as critical to athletes during offseason exercise, Berning says, because consuming rehydration beverages and salty foods in routine meals will also help the body to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.
Guidelines for fluid intake and hydration provided by Berning include 2-3 cups of fluid in pre-exercise mode (2-3 hours prior to exercise) and 1-2 cups approximately 15 minutes before exercise. She also encourages enough fluid to maintain weight during the workout, and three cups of fluid for each pound lost post exercise.
Nutrition Guidelines - The Athlete's Plate
The physical demands of practices and games are different from day to day and your diet should reflect these differences. The tips below have been designed as food guides for athletes to follow based on the physical demands of the day and season.
Heat Illness & Dehydration
When an athlete exercises, the body's temperature is elevated and the body sweats to cool itself down. During this process, body fluid as well as critical electrolytes are lost. If the body isn't replenished with fluids and electrolytes, dehydration may occur and increase the risk of a heat illness. Heat illness is best understood in three separate degrees of severity: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and the most serious form, heat stroke.
US Lacrosse Partners with US Anti-Doping Agency
US Lacrosse has joined with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (www.usada.org) in an effort to end the dangerous and unscrupulous practices of "rogue" manufacturers within the nutritional supplement industry. USADA’s initiative, Supplement Safety Now will work to eliminate the practice of selling dangerous products containing steroids and other drugs as "safe and legal" dietary supplements.