On Wednesday, I introduced everyone to my favorite session that I attended at the ISSN Workshop. I mentioned that I had two that I loved, so here is the second one - Training and Nutrition for the Young Athlete
Dr. Jeffrey Stout led the session, and was an incredible speaker. He was very engaging and I feel like I took away so many pointers, even though it was solely based on children. He used a lot of examples from his personal life in his presentation. He has kids that are very gifted athletes, and, per his words, “uses them as his guinea pigs.” Fair enough.
Here are the biggest and best tidbits of information that he shared with us:
Kids participate in sports because they want to have fun. This has always been true. However, there are a few changes that have been happening more often:
- Focusing on one sport as a child is becoming more and more common, but is that a good thing?
- No longer have an off season like the past – kids train year around
- 70% of kids drop out of youth sports by age 13 due to pressure from adults, coaches, and parents
Herbert Simon, and American political scientist, said, “It takes 10 years of extensive training to excel at anything”. This includes children in sports. According to Simon, this equates to the following:
2.7 hours a day, per day, for 10 years –> 10,000 hours
Studies have shown that it takes 8-12 years for a talented athlete to reach elite levels. That is a pretty extensive time period if you ask me!
From childhood to adolescence marks a period of rapid growth and development and may also be a sensitive period where there is the potential for irreversible effects on the body in adulthood (Brustaert et al. 2006). Nutrient deficiency in this age could result in them not achieving their goals, and actually doing more harm than good. They could be the most talented athletes, but if they are receiving inadequate nutrition, they may not reach their full potential.
Chronic nutrient deficiencies may lead to:
- menstrual irregularities
- poor bone heath (stress fractures)
- delayed puberty
These deficiencies happen most often in sports that are concerned about weight – gymnastics, cross-country, figure skating, and wrestling. It is proven that kids need 20-30% more energy than adults for the same exercise activity – they are nowhere near as efficient since they are not as strong. Their bodies are not developed yet, so their body uses nutrients differently. Glycogen stores are lower in children compared to adults, yet children are recommended the same carbohydrate intake as adults –> 3 to 5 grams per pound. This is way too high. it should be closer to 2-3 g/lb of body weight, depending on volume and intensity of training (2 for lower intensity, 3 for higher intensity)
If calories are not met for normal growth, then there is a risk for :
- decrease sports performance
- increase of overtraining
- increase risk of injury
- increase risk of getting sick
Too many young girls try to cut out fat, but it is a terrible thing to do. They need it for neural development. They are not educated early enough that not all fat is bad. Some is incredibly integral for growth and development. 25-35% of daily energy should come from fat (10% from saturated).
A few other important nutrients and tips:
- most important for kids in sports and when they are growing
- .5g/lb recommended for kids
- .4 recommended for boys ages 15-18, & .36 for girls age 15-18
- His recommendation –> .7g/lb per day for young athletes
Bone Health and Development
- Calcium and Vitamin D are the more important nutrients to maximize the development and peak bone mass within an individual’s genetic potential and for preventing osteoporosis
- About half of adult bone structure is developed during teen years
- Peak growth velocity in the skeleton occur at age 14 for males and 12.5 for girls
- Dietary intake is leading cause of insufficiency!
- Positive relationship between Vitamin D status compared to muscle mass, physical function, and bone mineral density
- Growth in height in kids is significantly associated with dairy protein
- Pre pubescent kids use more fat and less carbs than adults
- recent studies use more exogenous Carbs than adults – better for them to drink Gatorade
- Study showed –> a 6% Gatorade solution resulted in 34% increase in endurance capacity compared with the 10% Gatorade
Dr. Stout mentioned that his kids use glucose tabs for fuel when they are competing. Since they are not in need of hydration for the sports they compete in (wrestling & gymnastics), they are able to get the sugar and quick surge of energy from a glucose tablet. he recommends looking for them in the diabetic section at a CVS or Walgreens.
- Rehydrate, replenish, and repair muscle
- Chocolate Milk is best for right after a workout and kids love it
The biggest tip that Dr. Stout left us with was the following:
Kids are NOT little adults – they have different nutritional needs
I know this is a bit of a wordy post, but I think the information is too good not to share. I hope you enjoyed it! And if you get the opportunity to go to a conference like ISSN, take it! You will be happy that you did!