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 nutritionist and MomsTEAM expert, Nancy Clark:
MomsTEAM: What do recommend sports-active kids eat for breakfast?
Clark: The best breakfast is any breakfast, but clearly some breakfasts are better than others in terms of nutrient-density. I encourage student athletes to eat at least three different kinds of foods per meal, such as:
- Cereal + milk + banana
- Bagel + peanut butter + yogurt
- Fruit smoothie (Berries, orange juice, yogurt) + a granola bar
- Leftover pizza (crust + tomato sauce + cheese)
MomsTEAM: What are your top five foods for sports nutrition?
I actually have six:
- Peanut butter - for plant-protein, fiber, healthy fats that fight inflammation, convenience, great taste, satiety, reasonable price, and portability. People who eat nuts or peanut butter five or more times a week significantly reduce their risk of heart disease and diabetes (diseases of inflammation).
- Yogurt - either regular or Greek-style, low fat yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, protein, and a myriad of other life-sustaining nutrients. For dieting athletes who don't want to "drink their calories" in milk, yogurt is a great way to boost calcium intake.
- Bananas - the original pre-wrapped sports snack ready to grab-and-go, with or without peanut butter.
- Oatmeal - a heart-healthy whole grain that is an easy-to-digest pre-exercise meal or snack that offers sustained energy.
- Graham crackers - a whole-grain snack that is easy to digest, tastes good, and when spread with peanut-butter and made into a "cracker sandwich" is a crunchy snack that's a tasty alternative to a granola bar.
- Chocolate milk - way better than a sports drink for recovery!
Clark: Youth and high school athletes need wholesome foods, not supplements. Within the range of 1,200 to 1,500 calories, a student-athlete can consume all the vitamins, minerals and protein they need to meet their nutriental needs. Most student athletes consume 2,000 to 3,000 and more calories, so have the opportunity to consume a LOT of vitamins. Kids need to learn to be responsible with their food choices because no amount of supplements will compensate for a lousy sports diet.
Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD, is a sports dietitian in the Boston area, and author of the best-selling Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook (www.nanayclarkrd.com).