by Marta Nilsen, Master-rated PSA coach
Fuel your body with what it takes to get its work done. Many young athletes underestimate the amount and type of food needed to fuel their hard working bodies. A good rule of thumb is: most of your food should be grain/pasta /legumes; then vegetables, fruits, meats, and dair; then foods which are high in fat and sugar being the least amount.
Try to include foods in each of these groups throughout the day by eating 4 or 5 small meals instead of 3 large ones. Youths should be sure to get enough calcium and protein. Females should be careful to eat iron-rich foods. It is important to include nutrient-dense foods in your choices to make sure that you have adequate energy and nutrition. Below are listed some nutrient-dense foods in each of the food groups.
Grains: Whole wheat breads and pasta, multi-grain cereal, oatmeal, rice, etc.
Vegetables: Dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, carrots, peas, beans, squash, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and dried beans.
Fruits: Apples, oranges, bananas, apricots, melons, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, raisins, and pears.
Meats: Chicken, fish, lean meats, also include egg whites, peanut butter, and nuts.
Dairy: Milk, yogurt, cheese, soy milk,
Fats/ Sweets: Butter, margarine, oils, mayonnaise, candy, soft drinks, syrup, sugar.
You can also find the Food Guide Pyramid in any basic nutrition book at your library or via a Google search. Following it will help ensure that you fuel your body for top performance.