Welcome back I hope you have been well since last we met. Last time we started talking about Nutrition for Teen Athletes. I quickly decided that this was too big of a subject for one post. So, here we are with Part 2. We buy the best shoes we can find for our kids and make sure they have all the best equipment we can find when our children decide to become serious about their sport. That is all important, but good nutrition is even more important than that.
Let’s take a look at protein.
Protein is something that Americans seem to be obsessed with. I am always questioned about where the protein is in the lunches I post. I never get asked, “Where is the fruit, vegetable or whole grain?” True fact. Protein is an important part of our diet, but generally we get more than enough from the foods that we eat. That then makes me question if teen athletes need more protein than their sedentary friends? In fact, they do, but there is more to the story……………….
It is urban legend that athletes need a huge amount of protein to build muscles. Protein shakes and raw eggs are not necessary. I’m not against protein shakes, but I don’t want you to think that downing large doses of protein shakes are your ticket to larger muscles. Building muscles takes consistent training and hard work. That is why my son’s football coach has the team lifting weights before school each day in January when the season doesn’t start till August. It takes time and lots and lots of hard work. Protein shakes are not a substitute for the hard work. In fact, too much protein can actually be harmful. It can lead to dehydration, kidney problems and calcium loss.
Eating too much protein without the balance of fruits and vegetables and the fiber they provide can create another health issue. Let’s just term this one “bathroom problems”. The symptoms include too much time spent in the bathroom and a great deal of plunger use. This may seem funny, but it is a sign of inadequate nutrition. Our body is a machine and it functions best when we feed it a variety of nutrients. Protein is important to our overall health, but it is is not more important than fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
So, here are my thoughts on protein for our teen athletes…………..
Teen athletes need more protein than their sedentary friends, but since they are likely eating more calories to fuel their activities they just need to take in the extra protein through their regular eating. Make sure your teen athlete eats lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, and nuts or nut butters. A peanut butter and fruit quesadilla makes for a great snack because it includes protein and the fiber to prevent the “bathroom problems.” A salad made from spinach is a great way to add additional protein to your day.
Protein powders can be a nice addition to smoothies, but for those of you on a budget……..protein powders can be expensive and just are not necessary. Your teen athlete can get an adequate amount of protein through the real foods you are feeding them. I’ve also seen a lot in the news lately about protein powders. Some are good. Some are not. Many are loaded with ingredients that most of us don’t consider to be healthy.
Are you a fan of protein powder? If so, let me know what brands you have found that have good ingredients in them. What is your favorite protein source? Have you ever known anyone that you thought was eating too much protein or not enough? What happened to make you think that?
Can’t get enough Juggling Real Food and Real Life? Make sure you subscribe by email. You can subscribe by entering your email address to the right of this page. This will also enter you into the mailing list for my new newsletter. Just wait to see what I have coming. Please also follow us on our various social media. You can easily find me there if you have questions. The Juggling Pinterest Boards are crammed with lots of great information and recipes. Check them out!
You may also like Nutrition for Teen Athletes Part 1