MomsTEAM has designated October as Sports Nutrition Month, and invited some old friends and some new ones in the nutrition field to share their wisdom by responding to a series of questions. We hope their answers will offer the always on-the-go sports parents we know you are some fresh ideas and choices for healthy, easy-to-make breakfasts, lunches, dinners and between-meal snacks and to help you stretch your food dollar.
Today we hear from sports dietitian Allison Maurer:
Maurer: I am the Sports Dietitian (sports RD) at the University of Tennessee. I have been here for 5 years. I work with many of our sports teams, doing everything from one-on-one counseling to grocery store tours, cooking demonstrations, meal planning, eating disorder counseling, team talks, etc. I was always interested in sports growing up and in college I majored in dietetics. It just made sense to combine the two and here I am!
MomsTEAM: What do recommend sports-active kids eat for breakfast?
Maurer: I always recommend for kids and athletes to get a good combination of protein and carbohydrates for all meals and snacks. Breakfast is an easy time to get that combination, even if you are in a hurry. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk, yogurt with fruit, a bowl of cereal with a glass of chocolate milk, or even more traditional breakfast foods such as eggs, toast, oatmeal, etc. can be great sources of nutrients.
MomsTEAM: What are your top five foods for sports nutrition?
Maurer: My top five are:
- Peanut butter
- Fresh fruit
- Chocolate milk and
- Granola bars
MomsTEAM: Do you think youth and high school athletes need supplements? If yes, which ones?
Maurer: No, I never recommend supplements to kids at all, especially those 18 years or younger. Kids are still growing during their teens and adding a supplement is not going to make an athlete gain weight or be a better athlete any faster. Protein powders, creatine, etc, is absolutely not necessary for youth athletes. Most kids are lacking from a simple dietary intake standpoint, so supplements are just a waste of money for parents. Ask your child what he/she eats in a day and how often and that will be your answer to improving performance or weight gain, not a supplement. A simple children's multi-vitamin is quite all right, however.
MomsTEAM: What is the best snack to pack in a sports-active kid's school backpack or gym bag?
Maurer: See my list of the top five foods. Portion control is also important. Just because your child is active does not mean he/she needs five granola bars or a huge bagel. Be smart about how much and what you pack.
MomsTEAM: What is a quick and easy dinner to make for a family meal after an afternoon practice or game?
Maurer: My favorite is rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. I absolutely love it because it can be used to make so many different quick meals. Besides just carving it up and serving it with rice and frozen veggies as a side, you can shred it and use it:
- to make tacos or quesadillas
- put it in a salad,
- in a casserole, or
- on pizza (pre-made wheat crust with BBQ sauce, chicken and part-skim mozzarella cheese); or
- At a young age, more is not better.
- Kids don't dehydrate like adults, so don't encourage sports drinks at a young age. Stick with water.
- Gaining weight will happen during puberty, so don't give your kids what they want all the time.
- Make them try new foods, and if they don't like it, try it again another time. This may not be sports-related but from the time kids are very young, they know what they can get away with. Allowing them to make all the food choices at a young age is detrimental to their sensory development and their ability to experiment with foods. When they are in high school, they should not still be ordering chicken tenders off the kids menu at a Mexican restaurant!
Allison Maurer, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS is a Sports Dietitians at the University of Tennessee and Education Chair of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA). She is one of only 37 full-time Sports Dietitians at the NCAA Division I level, and is responsible for all nutrition education with the Vols and Lady Vols athletes. As part of her duties, she conducts grocery-shopping tours for student-athletes, weight-gain and weight-loss programs and performance nutrition -- what Maurer calls "fueling for performance." She handles meal planning for football and assists with meal planning for many other sports teams. Allison works closely with Team ENHANCE and Team EXCEL in working with eating disorders, disordered eating, and substance abuse. She conducts body composition testing for various sports teams and educates athletes on how to fuel to improve body composition. Maurer also teaches an undergraduate nutrition class, "Sports Nutrition for Athletes," while handling the budgeting, ordering and distribution of NCAA-compliant nutritional supplements for all UT sports.