With the commencement of youth football less than one month away, it is the perfect time for youth football athletes to cut out their dreaded offseason junk food habit. We know that junk food leads to childhood obesity, poor health, and lackluster play on the football field. These are reasons enough to start focusing on proper nutrition. The moment is now to eliminate and replace with fresh, nutritious options.
Empty Calories – vs – Full Calories
First, let’s look at calories, which are defined as single units of energy and the body’s method of turning food into energy.
An empty calorie, is just what the name implies, an empty (nutrient lacking) calorie. This is any food that contains lots of calories, but little to no nutritional benefit. Examples would be soda, potato chips, candy, and fast food. A standard candy bar will have high sugar content/ high calories, but no health benefit. Weight gain and disease result from eating too many empty calories.
A full calorie, will typically be associated with healthy proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Examples would include greens, beans, and fruits. Youth football kids exert large levels of energy and therefore need full calories for optimal football play.
Cut out the following offseason junk foods, and replace with the healthier alternatives. You will keep your athletes satisfied and prepared to play their best. Keep in mind, eating the wrong foods does not provide the proper nutrients (FUEL) for a growing youth football athlete. If you’re bringing junk foods into your home, limit or completely avoid purchasing these foods.
Candy bars and other sweets – substitute with ripe bananas. At 100 calories per fruit, bananas represent a great nutrition packed snack food. A ripe banana is at its sweetest point, and it contains fiber to give the ‘full’ feeling. This will provide the necessary fuel and energy boost your child needs to perform his best on the football field.
Fast food hamburger/ hotdogs – substitute with homemade grilled sandwiches (featured portobello mushrooms with spinach and red peppers. Vegetable calories are favorable full calories.
Soda (sugared, sugar free and diet versions) – substitute with seltzer water with squeezed lime, lemon or other citrus fruits.
Sugary cereal or bacon/eggs substitute with oatmeal with fresh fruits. Top with Flax seeds, for added nutrients, and maple syrup. Oatmeal is football fuel!
(See Also) Youth Football Nutrition