young athlete nutrition

Ten Calcium - Boosting Breakfasts Ideas

Love simple breakfasts that include filling a small mason jar with my favorite yogurt, fruit and homemade flax & chia seed granola.

Love simple breakfasts that include filling a small mason jar with my favorite yogurt, fruit and homemade flax & chia seed granola.

I always talk to young elite or multi-sport athletes about the importance of not skipping a meal. Each meal is an opportunity for the young athlete to get needed protein to repair torn muscles, carbohydrate to replenish energy stores, fat for brain health, satiety and inflammation-fighting, and certain nutrients like calcium to keep bones strong. Just as skipping a meal puts the young athlete at a disadvantage, not skipping meals can be one simple way to take your training and performance up a notch. Today I’m talking about calcium and I’m specifically focusing on ways to get calcium in breakfast because, of all the schools and sports teams I visit, the athletes skip breakfast the most often. Keep on reading for some breakfast ideas that will boost your young athlete’s calcium intake. Questions? Comment below!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

Ten Calcium - Boosting Breakfast Ideas

for the Young Athlete

  1. Sun Butter Banana and Chia Seed Oatmeal

    This is my newest morning oatmeal go-to recipe. Bump up the calcium by using some almond butter instead of Sun Butter or peanut butter!

  2. Sun butter banana overnight oats

    Still love the simplicity of these overnight oats. Again, use almond butter instead of Sun Butter or peanut butter for a little boost in calcium.

  3. Cherry Vanilla Overnight Oats

    A non-nut or non-seed butter option, this breakfast is packed with flavor and offers some calcium to busy mornings!

  4. Yogurt & Fruit Parfait with Flax Seeds

    No recipe needed here. Just layer your favorite yogurt, fruit and a sprinkle of flaxseed into a glass or bowl. Super simple and full of calcium.

    REMEMBER: Greek or higher protein yogurts tend to have less calcium than your regular yogurts. It’s due to how the Greek yogurt is strained / made. So, while your Greek - type yogurts boast more protein, they often have less calcium. If both protein and calcium are a concern, I always say, just mix it up! My favorite yogurts are Siggi’s, Chobani, and this Icelandic brand.

  5. Smoothie made with yogurt or almond milk

    Use whatever your favorite smoothie recipe is and try to get about 8 ounces of milk or almond milk or about 4 to 6 ounces of milk and 4 to 6 ounces of yogurt. Throw in chia seeds, flaxseeds or kale for a little more of a boost!

  6. Cheese Toast

    Growing up, on Saturday mornings I would often walk into the kitchen to mom eating a piece of toast with cheese on top that she had broiled in the oven. Guess you could call it an open faced grilled cheese if you need a better picture but we just called it what it was - cheese toast. This was typically a breakfast option in our household. Well, one morning last year at a high school, after I had finished a talk to a girls volleyball and soccer team, I was answering questions. I was talking with one young lady about easy breakfast ideas that could get her some protein and calcium quickly. I mentioned this cheese toast and she just looked at me curiously and with so much skepticism in her eyes and said, “like a bad grilled cheese??” . Ha! Touche. All I could do was laugh. Fair point I guess, if you didn’t grow up with it. So, with all that said. Take or leave the cheese toast. But it is an option! You could even dress it up by topping it with a slice of tomato and sprinkle of Italian season before broiled it in the oven.

  7. Mini Wafflewiches

    This idea came straight from the Kids in the Kitchen program that I was a part of for three years with the Junior League of Dallas. The kids made these in schools and it was by far one of the favorites in all of the schools. I downsized it a little here to be more compact and portable if you wanted.

    • 4 mini waffles (for 2 mini sandwiches)

    • vanilla yogurt

    • nut or seed butter (optional)

    • sliced banana

  8. Eggs with cheese & sauted kale. dried figs on the side

    Easy eggs. You could even add this into egg cups like the ones here to have ahead of time!

  9. Cottage cheese with drizzles of honey & fruit

    About 1/2 cup of cottage cheese gives you about 100 mg of calcium!

  10. Almond butter toast and an 8 to 12 ounce glass of milk or almond milk

    Go with your favorite toast. If you use almond butter you could get even an extra little boost of calcium! Pair it with milk, or almond milk to maximize your calcium in the meal.

Nutrition Talks: Key Messages for Young Athletes

School is starting back up, which means I get to be back in schools talking with young athletes about sports nutrition and how food can make them stronger, faster and sharper, and at the same time enable optimal growth, development and performance in school.  There is a lot going on with this group of athletes and I always remind them of that.   I then remind them that nutrition plays an important role during this time.

Try these Sun Butter (or Peanut Butter) Banana Overnight Oats!

Try these Sun Butter (or Peanut Butter) Banana Overnight Oats!

My first talk of the school year was last week and I loved it just as much as I always do.  I love the challenge and  I love talking about something I'm (a) passionate about, (b) believe in and (c) have the science and life experience (before I studied it I lived it) to back  me up.  As much as I love it, though, I always feel like I'm potentially walking a fine line - the line that divides the side of helping athletes become well-rounded, eating foods they enjoy but mostly focusing on foods that will support their training, sport, and day-to-day activities and the side of propelling them into the extreme, becoming too structured, too restrictive, or fixating on just one point discussed (this is the reason I always like to do follow-up talks and not appear just once, if I can).  Keeping this in mind, when giving talks or working one-on-one, I always try to remember or mention the following things.....

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE & TIMING OF FOOD VS “GOOD” AND “BAD”

Get the recipe for this super simple Fig & Cheddar Turkey Melt!

Get the recipe for this super simple Fig & Cheddar Turkey Melt!

It's important to eat "healthy" most of the time but that doesn't mean a young athlete can't still enjoy his or her favorite "less healthy" foods.  I always want to make sure I get the point across that just b/c a certain food isn't ideal for training or competition that doesn't make it across the board "bad" (I avoid labeling foods as "bad" and "good") - it means it's not the ideal food at that time for reasons including:  it may cause stomach cramps, upset stomach or nausea during the event or it may cause blood sugar spikes and crashes throughout the day leaving the athlete feeling tired and drained at the time of the event. 

 

BE CAUTIOUS OF THOSE PRONE TO OR ALREADY STRUGGLING WITH DISORDERED EATING

Need a quick breakfast, snack, or dessert idea? These  Sun Butter Banana Oat Bites  are delish!

Need a quick breakfast, snack, or dessert idea? These Sun Butter Banana Oat Bites are delish!

Part of my caution in talking to young athletes about sports nutrition also stem from my knowledge of the presence of disordered eating and eating disorders in adolescents and now in children, and I never want to say anything to offend or set someone off.  If one athlete isn't the one with the disordered eating or eating disorder, it may very well be the friend or teammate sitting across the bench.  These things are very personal and often not talked about.  


 

“HEALTHY” & “PORTION SIZE” ARE A RELATIVE TERM. UNDER -EATING OR UNDER-FUELING DOES NOT MAKE GREAT ATHLETES. IT MAKES GREAT INJURIES.

Easy dinner idea packed with nutrition, flavor and 3 out of the 5 food groups? Try this  Chili Lime Shrimp  Dish!

Easy dinner idea packed with nutrition, flavor and 3 out of the 5 food groups? Try this Chili Lime Shrimp Dish!

I also want student athletes to understand that as athletes they can't assume that their friend's or peer's definition of "healthy" is the same as their definition.  Young athletes want lots of fruits and veggies and lean protein and some healthy fats like everyone else, but, for most young competitive and elite athletes who have hit puberty, foods with carbohydrates should be a best friend.  On top of that,  young competitive and elite athletes typically need bigger portions or to eat more frequently than their friends and family members do due to increased energy and nutrition needs from hours of practice and playing.  As a figure skater growing up, there was a period of time in Middle School, maybe sliding into the 9th grade, where I thought less food = better skating.  I soon learned, and more on this is saved for a separate post, that that was not the case.  I'll say this again, but, under-eating or under - fueling doesn't make great athletes.  It makes great injuries.    

 

SUMMING IT UP

Easy to make & easy to pack, I love this  Red Pepper & Pesto Chicken Salad!

Easy to make & easy to pack, I love this Red Pepper & Pesto Chicken Salad!

Overall, yes, young athletes want to eat "healthier" foods because these are going to supply them with: (1) ample energy to work their hardest  (2) sustained energy for longer practices and maintained focus (3) strong bones to withstand the constant pounding and stress put on them  (4) decreased inflammation after wear and tear of muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc. and (5) strong muscles to keep them running, kicking, hitting, jumping, swimming and diving.  There is the saying that a sport is 90% mental and 10% physical.  I can see the validity in this statement;  however, even with the toughest "go-get-em" attitude, an athlete can only get so far if he or she does not have the proper nutrition as a foundation.  Yes, this strong-willed attitude may work for a short while, but if the athlete keeps going, keeps advancing with longer practices and harder workouts, eventually poor nutrition (whether that's too much of the nutrient-void foods, too little of the nutrient-dense foods, or just too little food in general) will catch up with him or her.  So, yes, there can be room for favorite desserts, chips, french fries, etc., but these foods have to be placed at the right time and these lower nutrient foods can't crowd out the ones that fuel the sport, growth, and school work.  

Wrapping it up, this is what has been on my mind this week.  Of course, every athlete has his or her own unique nutrition needs depending on factors including, but not limited to, age, weight, height, and sport played.  However, at the root of all of my different talks for different teams and with different athletes is the following message: 

  1. You've got to get you fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, calcium and healthy fats to play / perform your best.

  2. That doesn't mean you cannot or should not ever include you favorite foods that don't fall into the categories in #1.

  3. Understanding digestion rates / timing is helpful so you know the best time to enjoy those favorite foods that may not be the best fuel for your sport. Knowing this will also help you incorporate those favorite foods that do best fuel your sport, helping you place them at the right times before, during and after events.

  4. Also remember that you're an athlete. If you're a serious competitive or elite athlete, you're using up a lot more energy and nutrients than your non-athlete peers. This means you most likely have to eat more food. Under-eating or under - fueling doesn't make great athletes. It makes great injuries.

  5. So, eat your meals and pack your snacks. Load them up with the nutrient-rich foods to support training, but enjoy your favorite foods along the way - whatever those may be.

 

Happy Fueling!

Taylor