The following article was copied from www.usaswimming,org and it is a great article about nutrition for the the growing athlete. It is imperative that each of you not take any short cuts in your nutritional needs. A short cut here could cause some potential problems down the road.
By Jill Castle, Registered Dietitian & Child Nutrition Expert
Calories provide the energy your young swimmer needs for everyday activity, swim performance and growth.
With hints of calorie intakes in excess of 10,000 calories per day, Michael Phelps blew the competition away in 2008 and blew our minds with his over-the-top calorie consumption. And it produced the nagging question in parents’ minds, “How much does my young swimmer need to eat?”
Children aged 9–13 years need about 1,500-2,400 calories each day, depending on age and gender, to support the demands of normal growth and development. Add the energy burn of a regular two-hour swim practice, and the energy needs can skyrocket to the tune of 2,700 – 3,600 calories or more per day.
Martinez and colleagues (Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 2011) recently found that young, amateur swimmers on semiprofessional teams (year-round club teams) had low energy consumption compared to what they needed. They also found these young swimmers were overdoing protein and missing the mark on other important vitamins and minerals.
What happens if kids don’t get the calories they need? Fatigue, impaired focus and concentration, low physical performance and perhaps a delay in physical development (lag in muscle building, slowed height growth and/or delay in adult development) may occur when calorie intake is less than needed over time.
As parents, it‘s our job to make sure that kids get the energy they need, and from the proper food sources. Avoid the mistake of delivering high calorie, nutrient-poor foods from the fast food drive-through. Not only are they excessive in fat, salt and sugar and under-deliver important nutrients like iron, calcium and B vitamins, they set the tone for future food cravings and selections that won’t support good health when swimming is over.
Sound complicated? It’s not.
Here are some ways to assure your growing child gets the right amount and type of calories he needs as an active swimmer:
- Stock your kitchen with good quality nutrition: whole foods in their natural state, such as low fat dairy products, lean meats and other protein sources, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats. These are the foods that should be a part of every healthy, growing child’s diet.
- Make sure your child gets three nutritious meals a day. No skipping! A meal should include at least 3-4 of these foods: a protein source, dairy, fruit, vegetable, healthy fats and/or a whole grain food source.
- Aim for two snacks each day that include a protein source. Meats, beans and bean dips, nuts and nut butters, cheeses, yogurt, milk or milk substitutes, and protein-rich whole grains such as quinoa are great sources of protein for the swimmer. Unsweetened cereal and milk; yogurt, fresh fruit and nuts; whole-wheat toast and peanut butter are all examples of a healthy protein-rich snack for your school-age athlete.
- Timing is everything. Kids perform best in all aspects of life when they eat regularly. Try to provide a meal or snack every 3-4 hours, and avoid sending your swimmer to practice on an empty stomach.
With a little bit of planning, it’s easy to assure your young swimmer gets enough nutrition to cover all his needs. The benefits of that are worth it, keeping your swimmer healthy, growing and energized for performing in the pool.
From the US Government's USDA website "ChooseMYPlate.gov the following tips are recommended:
10 tips for healthy meals
Nutrition Education Series
A healthy meal starts with more vegetables and fruits and smaller portions of protein and grains. Think about how you can adjust the portions on your plate to get more of what you need without too many calories. And don’t forget dairy—make it the beverage with your meal or add fat-free or low-fat dairy products to your plate.
1make half your plate veggies and fruits Vegetables and fruits are full of nutrients and may help to promote good health. Choose red, orange, and dark-
green vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.
2add lean protein Choose protein foods, such as lean beef and pork, or chicken,
turkey, beans, or tofu. Twice a week, make seafood the protein on your plate.
3include whole grains
Aim to make at least half your grains whole grains. Look for the words “100% whole grain” or “100% whole
wheat” on the food label. Whole grains provide more nutrients, like fiber, than refined grains.
4 don’t forget the dairy
Pair your meal with a cup of fat-free or low-fat milk.
They provide the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat
and calories. Don’t drink milk? Try soymilk
(soy beverage) as your beverage or include
fat-free or low-fat yogurt in your meal.
5avoid extra fat
Using heavy gravies or sauces will add fat and calories to otherwise healthy choices. For example,
steamed broccoli is great, but avoid topping it with cheese sauce. Try other options, like a sprinkling of low-fat parmesan cheese or a squeeze of lemon.
6take your time
Savor your food. Eat slowly, enjoy the taste and textures, and pay attention to how you feel. Be mindful. Eating
very quickly may cause you to eat too much.
7 use a smaller plate
Use a smaller plate at meals to help with portion control.
That way you can finish your entire plate and feel satisfied without overeating.
8take control of your food
Eat at home more often so you know exactly what you are eating. If you eat out, check and compare the
nutrition information. Choose healthier options such as baked instead of fried.
try new foods
Keep it interesting by picking out new foods you’ve never tried before, like
mango, lentils, or kale. You may find a new favorite! Trade fun and tasty recipes with friends or find them online.
10satisfy your sweet tooth in a
Indulge in a naturally sweet dessert dish—fruit!
Serve a fresh fruit cocktail or a fruit parfait made with yogurt. For a hot dessert, bake apples and top with cinnamon.
DG TipSheet No. 7