Food and fluid intake following a match or training session is essential to your health and performance as a junior athlete. Given the length of the game, it’s important to ensure you are replacing your glycogen (energy) stores, repairing muscle tissue and rehydrating correctly!
When searching for something to eat or drink post exercise, it’s important to consider the inclusion of some carbohydrate (fresh/ dried fruit, pasta/bread, crackers, muesli bars) as well as some good quality protein (milk/yoghurt, cheese, meat, tuna, eggs, nuts).
For some young athletes, fuel in the form of fluid may be more appealing than solids. In this way, a milk based drink (e.g. Up & Go, a smoothie or simply milk) or a liquid meal replacement (such as Sustagen) may be a good option.
It’s also important to consider timing of the meal. It’s recommended to eat within 30 minutes of training or competition, however, if this falls within the timing of a main meal, then a recovery snack is not necessary. It is useful to plan ahead and pack snacks in your lunch pack or plan what you can purchase on the way home from training or a game to ensure you refuel adequately.
Some good recovery snacks and meals include:
– Yoghurt and fresh/dried fruit
– Sushi hand rolls
– Small tin of tuna with crackers
– Soup with a cheese sandwich
– Sandwich, roll or wrap with protein filling e.g., chicken, tuna, cheese or egg with salad
– Chicken and pasta salad
– Or simply a well balanced evening meal (remember the veggies!)
Fluid intake directly after a match or training is essential to ensuring you continue to perform at your best! Directly after a game, rehydrate with water and continue to sip on water for at least 2-4 hours. You might like to add a big drink of water with your recovery meal.
Some good rehydration foods and fluids include:
– Sports drinks
– Milk-based drinks (such as smoothies & flavoured milk)
– Liquid meal supplements (for example Sustagen)
– Soup (during the cooler season)
As a junior athlete, sweetened drinks such as soft drink, cordial or iced tea are not recommended after training or games. Keep these for a special occasion! Energy drinks and cola which contain caffeine are also not recommended.
In summary, recovery food and fluids should:
1. Start within 30 minutes after exercise
2. Be high in carbohydrates, and contain some protein and fluid
3. Be quick and easy to prepare and eat
4. Pre-planned/packed or able to be purchased
If you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact Eat Smart Nutrition’s Sports Dietitians.