Top 10 Foods for Youth Athletes

Grilled Chicken dinner

If you are a coach or parent of youth athletes then you know the importance of practice and training for sports success…

But are you paying attention to what your youth athletes are eating?

Sugary Cereal

Are you a “fruit loop”?

There’s a lot of truth to the old saying, “you are what you eat.”

So many young athletes don’t eat to support the training, practice and competition demands that they put their body’s through.

THIS IS CRAZY!!

Building For The Long Term

How on earth do you expect to build long-term athleticism if you aren’t fueling the body with the right nutrients?

children cooking

Hey, I get it… kids will be kids. But this is the time to program them towards life-long healthy nutrition choices… and you as the coach or parent are in the driver’s seat in making this happen.

Sometimes getting youth athletes to follow a specific meal plan can be a daunting task and even impractical.

So… what I decided to do is give you a kick-start on youth athlete nutrition by listing 10 foods that are great for athletic development because they help sustain and build lean muscle tissue.

In no particular order, here goes:

    1. Beef: Beef can be a great food for muscle development. It has an extremely high content of protein. It has a high-concentration of amino acids that work with insulin to transport the protein into the muscle cells. Beef also contains a lot of vitamins and minerals including the B-vitamins, Iron and Zinc.
    2. Brown Rice: Brown rice is a slow-absorption carbohydrate. It digest slowly, allowing long-sustained energy throughout the day, without energy crashes. It also helps to fuel the body while sparing protein for energy. Brown rice can also increase the levels of growth hormone in the blood, leading to muscle growth.
    3. Eggs: Eggs are one of the absolute best proteins you can consume. Eggs are a complete protein and rate as one of the best on the protein-efficiency scale. They contain a ton of amino acids and vitamins/minerals that can lead to optimal metabolic function. They also help boost your immune system.
    4. Chicken:  Chicken, like beef, is a great quality protein source. Chicken generally contains a lower fat content then other meats. This makes it a good choice for those looking to add lean muscle. Chicken is also a practical protein source because it can be cooked in different ways and added to many different foods.
    5. 5 Nutrition TipsOats: Oats have a low glycemic index value like Brown Rice. This means that oats are slow to absorb in the blood stream, allowing for sustained energy throughout the day. Oats are high in fiber and haven’t gone through an excessive process for packaging… allowing them to be eaten in a natural form. This allows for better digestibility.
    6. Salmon: Salmon is great for building lean muscle that athletes need for sports performance. Salmon is a high-quality protein source and is also high in Omega-3 fatty acids. These “healthy” fats in Salmon assist in more lean muscle tissue building. They also help to optimize hormone levels in the body. Salmon is also high in Vitamin D, which is vital to muscle development.
    7. Milk: Muscle is an easy-to-consume muscle building food. Milk is high in protein and contains all 8 essential amino acids. That means they are great for repairing and re-building tissue in the body. The fat in milk has also been shown to increase growth hormone levels in the body.
    8. Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are a vegetable carbohydrate that has a very low glycemic index number. This means that sweet potatoes are an excellent food for athletes because they help give you energy that will last throughout the day.   They are also high in fiber, leading to improved digestion. Sweet potatoes are also high in Vitamins A and B. These vitamins can improve health as they are antioxidants.
    9. Cottage Cheese: Cottage cheese is high in Casein protein (a dairy protein) that is slow to absorb and allows for a sustained delivery of protein to the muscle cells. This is why Cottage Cheese is an excellent protein source before bed. It also contains a high amount of good bacteria which help break down and digest other foods that you eat.
    10. Greek Yogurt: Greek Yogurt is a food that contains a good amount of high quality protein as well as fats. It can increase muscle tissue and also improve the health and quality of the cells. Like Cottage Cheese, Greek Yogurt contains a lot of high quality bacteria, which can help with digestion of other foods and ultimately allow you to have more energy and be healthier.

Looking for MORE help and ideas?

Because we care about training youth athletes for the long term, we are offering you a FREE Guide to Nutrition Tips for Youth Athletes.  Just click the link to gain FREE access to this quick start guide and follow the simple rules in each of the 5 steps to see immediate results and start reaping the benefits of the Secret Weapon…  That is “Proper Nutrition”.

About The Author

Steve Preston

Steve Preston is a Sports Performance Specialist and PE Teacher in Virginia Beach, VA. He has trained, taught and coached over 10,000 athletes and students for over 25 years. His athletes have ranged from 6 years old to the NFL. He is a life-long student of strength and conditioning and was a National Runner Up in Powerlifting and set a Junior World Record in the Bench Press.