Seasonal Fall Treats: How do they affect athletic performance? By Joe Polifroni, B.S. Kinesiology/Exercise Science.

images-2Fall season is here! That means the holidays are going to be approaching very quickly. This is a very nice part of the year to enjoy spending time with friends and family. Most of this shared time will involve food, pastries and specialty drinks that might not be the best option for youth athletes to consume while they are participating in their practices and competitions. Nutrition is so important for athletic performance, and youth athletes need optimal nutrient intake in order to play at their best!

57363980The problem with all of the seasonal cookies, cakes, pies, candies, ice creams and drinks is the very high amount of sugar an athlete will be consuming. None of these food options have any source of vitamin, or mineral content that would help an athlete’s nutrition. They only provide a source of “empty calories”: meaning, there is no nutrient value to provide sustained energy for a game or practice. A youth athlete needs whole grain carbohydrates, lean sources of protein, and healthy fats before and after their games or practices.

images-3When a kid’s body intakes too much sugar, the glucose binds with our blood, and blood sugar levels spike. After 30-60 minutes blood sugar levels will dramatically drop due to the lack of fiber that the body took in. Fiber is the indigestible part of whole grain carbohydrates that help regulate blood sugar, in order to maintain and stabilize energy levels. With an overload of sugar a kid will experience symptoms of fatigue, hunger, and dehydration. These are all symptoms that have negative effects on playing performance! No athlete should ever feel sluggish and tired during their game because they were not nutritionally prepared. While it is true that kids should not be cut off from sugar completely, too often children are consuming much more sugar than their body can process and actually use as energy.

This is a list of some common seasonal treats that all athletes should avoid before and after practices and games. No kid should be going over 30-40 grams of sugar in one day!

  1. Starbucks Caramel Apple Cider: 228 calories and 50 grams of sugar.
  2. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte: 216 calories and 38 grams of sugar.
  3. 1 slice of apple pie: 411 calories and 56 grams of sugar.
  4. 1 slice of pumpkin pie: 150 calories and 26 grams of sugar.
  5. 1 Cinnabon: 880 calories and 59 grams of sugar.
  6. 1 Cronut: 510 calories and 30 grams of sugar.
  7. 1 slice of pumpkin bread: 230 calories and 30 grams of sugar.

For more information on proper youth athlete nutrition and ways to help improve the performance of your child, please send me an email!

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