Simple Sips: Hydrating Techniques for Youth Athletes

Yes, I’m going to talk about water again :) WAIT! All the info will help, even if you don’t fall into the youth category. Besides, it’s a way to look busy at work so read on!

If you are the proud owner of a young athlete then you should know one important detail (other than the fact that your own life will need to take a back seat while those in your back seat get carted around like Ms Daisy)…adolescents dehydrate much faster than adults AND the signs are not as readily noticeable. The reasons? Well, dehydration occurs faster in those between the ages of 6-14 due to the fact that their bodies are still in need of more water for the growing of bones, sinews, ligaments, etc. More water is already being used for that pesky growing process, so the muscles and surrounding tissue don’t hold as much. This means that as your athlete plays their heart out, they are dehydrating at an accelerated rate. So, why don’t the symptoms show up? Well, technically they probably do, it’s just that most don’t notice them. The symptoms of dehydration can include the following:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Achy muscles all over
  • Trouble collecting ones thoughts
  • Feeling thirsty (I know that’s a DUH, but by the time we feel thirsty we’re in the danger zone)
  • Slow in perspiration, no matter the temp
  • Slow in hand/eye coordination

Now, these don’t generally all hit at once and when your kid is playing for the win they tend not to notice a little cramp here or a dry mouth there. It’s not that the symptoms aren’t there, it’s that they have better things to think about. Your job is to focus on preventing dehydration altogether as opposed to simply trying to spot the symptoms. Once we reach the point of nausea, muscle cramps, slow perspiration and cotton mouth, chugging a liter will do no good. As a matter of fact, rapid water consumption at this state will more than most likely end in the water running for the nearest exit….meaning a barf bomb for your kid.

In order to prevent dehydration in young athletes, we need to plan ahead. For starters, don’t feed your kid crap on a training day! I see this over and over on the football field: a kid has a couple of hot dogs for lunch and washes them down with a soda…THAT is the one who passes out on the field. They end up starting a grueling 2 hour practice already dehydrated (food for thought: carbonated beverages pull water from your bones….yeah) and then end up on the ground or in the hospital. Use your parent brain and take care of them. Make sure they drink water throughout the day (that’s why schools have those fancy fountains!) and if practice or the game lasts more than 45 minutes OR is in extreme heat, consider sending a sports drink with your kid. Since sugar is the enemy of hydration, I opt for G2 or other low sugar drink. You can also water it down a bit as needed. The sodium and potassium help the body to hold onto water so as not to dehydrate during a game/practice session. I also really like the Gatorade chews. They have some that are simply for hydration and easy to carry in one’s pocket as well as some pre-game carbohydrate chews that help the body stay fueled without pulling from its own muscle. Head to the game with water in hand and place it on the sidelines for your kid (nobody wants their mommy running water out to them people!) and make sure to have a hydrating beverage in the car when you pick them up from practice.

Snacks can help with hydration as well. Vegetables are water dense and can provide a whopping 30% of our daily water IF we eat enough. I always send my son brocoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. at lunch, especially on game pr practice days. If your kids are more used to burgers and fries, offer them the knowledge on what it takes to become a better athlete. Example: world-class athletes don’t chow down on a double meat and fries before a game…. Train your gut and your butt and you’ll reap the benefits on the field or the court, simple as that. Ask your kid to try it for 2 weeks and see how they feel. My son noticed a large difference in how he felt when he took a homemade lunch and when he bought the processed junk at school. He now asks that I make his lunch and often times throws in some help as well. And he’s in highschool now :)

Limit seriously salty snacks before games, but don’t take salt out of your athletes diet! Athletes need more salt. That’s reason to become an athlete for some people… Keep the diet varied and spend just a little extra time getting prepped for games. Pack a cooler with healthy snacks, including LOADS of fruits as these provide hydration and quick energy. Think you’re too busy? Tell that to the doc who has to stick a huge needle in your dehydrated kids arm. Yeah, you can pull time. In today’s world most grocery stores have fruits, veggies and even recovery drinks already made and within close proximity to each other. Invest in refillable bottles and for goodness sake, make your athlete help in this process! Life isn’t a one man show, but a big production where we all have a part to play :)

Stay hydrated and stay healthy!

 

Michelle

 

Youth Athletes: Sports Nutrition and Training

Happy Monday!

I’m getting back into the swing of things since the Summer is winding down (sad, but so true). Today, I’m going to start off August with info on Youth Athletes. Your kid (if you have contact with ANY young athletes, this will help you!) can benefit greatly from proper knowledge on training and nutrition as the sports seasons start to come into full swing. Some youth prefer seasonal sports such as football and basketball, while others can play soccer or baseball seemingly year round. If you know youth (I’ll be working mainly with ages 8-17 here) then the knowledge you will gain during this month will prove priceless in keeping them on top of their game and injury free. Let’s get started!

Parents and Caregivers:It’s NOT about you…

Harsh start, I know. Here’s the real deal though: your kids chosen sport has nothing to do with you. If they chose baseball because it was your idea and your hopes are hung on them going farther than you did and reliving your glory days….it will end badly. Usually resulting in pushing too far which can ultimately lead to life long injury. Our jobs as parents and caregivers are to encourage them and help them along their own path…not relive our own.

Nutrition is PARAMOUNT during the training season.

Developing solid nutritional habits is the most important step you can take during training. They can run faster than anybody on the planet, but poor nutrition will outrun even the fastest kid. This can be difficult to understand as most people equate nutrition with weight. Nutrition is way bigger than weight, it’s about preventing injury and creating an environment in which the body can fully thrive. For example: a water loss of 10% (this is before the thirsty feeling kicks in) can cause delayed reaction times and dizziness. This means that if your athlete starts the game slightly dehydrated they have a higher chance of injury due to overcompensation. Too few carbs in the diet can lead to the body pulling from muscle during a training session or game. When the body begins to eat its own muscle, we experience painful cramps that can slow us completely. The body hits survival mode and your kids could be the one hitting the grass in severe pain. Poor refueling after training or games will result in muscle loss and encourage more catabolic behaviour within the body. The result? Your athlete will slowly begin to think that they aren’t “meant” for the sport…refuel properly and they have the best chance for keeping the muscle their body is trying to establish and raising the bar on the game itself. All because you rock as a parent :)

Consider hiring a professional.

PROFESSIONAL is the key term here. Interview the person that may be working with your athlete. Don’t assume they are qualified just because they work at a gym or for a sports facility. I know a lot of completely unqualified people who work in those arenas. It’s a simple question: are you certified to work with youth athletes? Follow up to a yes: May I see that certification? Aside from that, feel free to ask for records of CPR certification, insurance and any other specialties. I believe in making it a point to ensure you are hiring somebody who knows what they are doing, especially when it comes to your kids.

Educate your athlete.

The number one thing I have learned in working with young athletes is that mom and dad can’t just fall back on the Nike slogan JUST DO IT. Kids are ripe for planting knowledge. Explain to them WHY they need to drink their water. Explain the benefits of potassium and sodium in the diet. Explain why that double meat fast “food” burger isn’t nearly good enough to refuel after training. Size your response to questions based on your athletes age. My kids started learning about nutrition very young and now, they get it. They understand why they need to pay attention to their bodies and they dig the fact that we don’t do fast “food”. Why? Because it’s NOT food! It’s processed junk and the body would rather not use it to fuel muscle, so it gets stored. We have burgers…but they’re the really good ones :)

Every week I’ll bring you a recipe for pre-training/pre-game. This week:

Protein and Carb Pancakes

Both of my young athletes (and myself!) LOVE these things. They are the proper ratio of proteins to carbs (60/30) with just a tiny bit of fat (10) since you don’t want to train or play on a fatty stomach. Serve these 30-60 minutes prior to training/gaming and your athlete will be ahead of the pack already.

Ingredients:

2 whole eggs + 4 egg whites

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour (you can use gluten-free if needed)

cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, etc for spice

OPTIONAL: 1 scoop whey protein, flavor of choice (I only recommend if your athlete is over 10 years old and pretty active)

milk of choice until consistency meets how your kids digs their pancakes (my kids like them pretty thick)

Mix together and cook in pan or on griddle until slightly golden brown.

Top with fruit (bananas rock!), natural honey or natural maple syrup.

The natural sugars will help with energy, but don’t overdo as too much sugar can upset the GI tract during vigorous activity.

 

 

Come back all month for more on keeping your athlete on the top of their game!

Michelle

Tough Love Tuesday: Think Like an Athlete, Expedite Your Results