During spring break my family spent some time at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy at the IMG Performance Institute. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. my boys did warm ups, drills, and match play in the hot Florida sun. As my kids aren’t used to the extreme heat, sun, and exercise, I asked Dr. Sally Parsonage, head of nutrition at the institute, what tips she could give us for healthy snacks and keeping the boys at peak performance:
1) Hydrate properly: Instead of drinking water, refuel with a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade. If you’re exercising for hours and just drinking water, you are diluting your body fluids and not replacing your electrolyte balance. So, I mixed the kids’ water with a healthy dose of a sports drinks and then served them up at a big glass of pure Gatorade at the end of every day.
2) Eat a diet rich in complex carbs: Pasta, rice, bread and other carbs should make up roughly half of your kid’s daily intake when he or she is exercising a lot because carbs constantly refuel the body. The remainder of the diet should be protein and lots of fibrous, vitamin-rich produce.
3) Have three meals a day plus snacks: Parsonage recommends eating meals two hours before a big day of playing sports and then topping it up with snacks 20 minutes before actual play.
4) Only eat healthy snacks. Bananas, granola bars, an apple, these are perfect snacks for kids to eat during their day of sports. Sugary snacks will only spike their blood sugar up and then bring it rocketing back down, resulting in fatigue and loss of focus.