We seem to be in a day and age where kids seem to be pushed to be the biggest, baddest, fastest athlete. We often see that parents and coaches use every trick they can to gain the competitive edge including expensive equipment, additional training and extra practice. What we find to be lacking in the basic building blocks for strong, healthy individuals.
Let's have a look at what happens when we break it down into the things that help us perform to a high standard and to recover quickly? Our diet and nutrition is key to providing the fuel needed for kids to learn, and specifically for athletes to grow, improve and stay at the top of their game.
One of our young Dynafit athletes drinks one sport drink during every practice and two at every game. He figured that if professional athletes can be shown drinking it on the sidelines, sweating beads of blue and orange in ads and dumping it on coaches to celebrate, it couldn’t be a bad thing. His mom echoed these thoughts.
The truth is that under 1% of Canadian athletes require the use of sports drinks, yet Canadians spent $450 million on them last year alone. The manufacturers market to our children and teens through social media ads and sports advertising! We (and our kids especially) should be avoiding these drinks that are laden with sugar, dyes, additives and empty calories.
For example, an average 20 oz bottle of Gatorade contains 8.5 teaspoons of sugar. That young athlete I mentioned... he drinks a minimum of 4 a week for 24 weeks a year. At the bare minimum, he’s consumed 816 tsps (4.66 lbs) of sugar just drinking sports drinks! That's A LOT of sugar, especially when you consider that children should be maxing out at 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of added sugar in a day.
We suggest that it is time to STOP with the sport's drinks. Realistically speaking electrolyte replenishment really only needs to happen for moderate to vigorous physical activity exceeding 60 to 90 minutes. Anything less than that- water is just fine!
Researchers want us to remember the following:
-trust your thirst! Your body will tell you when it’s thirsty.
-drink water (add fruit, mint, cucumbers, etc for flavour)
-snack on foods that have a high water content (watermelon, cucumber,etc)
-choose foods that contain calories we can burn as fuel (healthy fats, protein, complex carbohydrates) instead of empty calories (sugar and sugar substitutes).
-we eat diets high in sodium and don’t require the sodium in a sports drink
-be a healthy role model and choose water
-if electrolytes are a must, go with a healthier option to toss in a water bottle. I like the Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator or Emergen-C electrolyte powder or make one of your own!
Please keep your eyes peeled for a very special KidsFit coming up with Dr. Edmunds. She is a promoter of the “Water Does Wonders” program and the “Healthy Kids Community Challenge.” She is passionate about encouraging our young athletes to make healthy, educated decisions with their nutrition.