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Athlete eating oatmeal

Eating Breakfast Sets Up Young Athletes for Success

By: Erin Abbate MS, ATC, VATL

We have heard countless times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, the majority of our young athletes do not make it a priority. One out of four teenagers skips breakfast on a daily basis, studies show. This can be detrimental to the overall health and wellness of the student athlete. Adolescent athletes are still developing. They require sufficient caloric, vitamin, and mineral intake. Neglecting these needs can negatively impact performance both on and off the field.

Food should be viewed as fuel. The more we can encourage this concept among young athletes, the better. Their “tanks” are on empty when they wake up in the morning. Starting the day off with a well-balanced meal can jumpstart their metabolism. This, in turn, will set them up for success on the field as well as in the classroom. In fact, research shows that kids who eat a well-rounded breakfast often have improved academic test scores, longer attention spans, greater attendance, and decreased hyperactivity in school.

Additionally, eating breakfast allows for blood sugar to be stabilized early in the day. This provides sustained energy while decreasing blood sugar crashes and cravings. It also lowers the risk of developing heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

What does a balanced meal look like? A healthy breakfast should include all three categories of macronutrients: protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. American diet trends tend to contain breakfast foods loaded with sugar and refined carbohydrates. Instead, athletes should strive to have a breakfast focused around protein and whole grains. This will provide sustained energy and satiety throughout the day.

Healthy breakfast items include:

  • Eggs
  • Whole grain toast with peanut butter
  • Multigrain waffles
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Greek yogurt
  • Granola bars
  • Oatmeal
  • String cheese
  • Beef jerky

All of these options are fairly quick and easy which lend to the extremely busy schedules of our youth. Understanding and applying these simple changes will reap many rewards for the overall health and longevity of our adolescent athletes.

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About CHKD Sports Medicine

About CHKD Sports Medicine  CHKD's sports medicine program offers the most comprehensive care for your young athlete. From diagnosis and treatment to customized rehabilitation plans, we specialize in physical therapy and injury prevention programs for active children and teens. Our team is composed of pediatric orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine specialists, physician assistants, certified athletic trainers and pediatric sports medicine physical therapists.