This summary is from the IAAF 2nd International Consensus Conference on “Nutrition for Athletics“ held in Monaco from April 18-20, 2007. Copies of the CD and booklet are available from the IAAF website www.iaaf.org.
Nutrition for the Young Athlete
Presenter: Flavia Meyer (BRA)
Adequate nutrition for youth athletes is important to enhance performance, avoid injury and ensure optimal growth, maturation and bone health. It is particularly important for young athletes to meet the energy demands for growth and for exercise and they have increased needs for protein (per kg bodyweight) and calcium.
Carbohydrate intake in young athletes should be enough to replenish glycogen stores. It is unclear whether glycogen supercompensation has similar effects in children as in adults. Fat intake should be according to general health guidelines with about 35% of energy coming from fat with less than 10% from saturated fats. Young people have been shown to have higher fat utilisation than adults. Protein intake should be higher than for non-athletic peers. An intake of about l.4g/kg/day is advised.
Young athletes should be screened for low mineral intake. especially of iron and calcium. Iron deficiency is a common problem in adolescents. Dietary iron intake and bio-availability should be optimised. Blood parameters should be monitored and corrected if necessary. Calcium intake of 1300mg is recommended for children from 9-18 years to achieve positive calcium balance.
Dehydration has more profound effects in youths than adults. Even mild dehydration (as little as 1-2% of body weight) should be avoided since it impairs performance and therefore young athletes should be encouraged to drink to compensate for sweat loss. Adding flavor, sodium and carbohydrate to re-hydration solutions improves voluntary fluid ingestion and will aid absorption.
There is no evidence of growth retardation in athletics. Growth retardation has been shown in female gymnasts however, in that population catch-up growth was reported during periods of rest or decreased training.
In general, not much is known about the long-term health consequences of supplement use in youth and therefore these should not be taken under the age of 18. However, it is recognised that supplements are used by young athletes. Care should be taken that when they insist on using supplements, knowledgeable health professionals assist in choosing the type, brand and dosage of supplements.
The above summary was written by Peter Res
If you wish to download this handy Grams and Calorie Calculator for Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat, click here for the Excel spreadsheet.
This is part 8 of 14 in a series from the 2007 2nd IAAF International Consensus Conference “Nutrition for Athletics”