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 Pre-Workout Fueling

Pre-Workout Fueling

Improve performance by eating at the right time before a workout

Young student-athletes are often faced with a tough challenge when rushing to practice after school. How do you fuel for a practice or workout with limited time and when lunch is often hours before the final bell rings?

TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, shares what parents and coaches need to know about pre-workout fueling for middle and high school athletes.

Understand youth energy needs

“Kids' energy needs are a double-edged sword,” says Ziesmer. “Because of their metabolism and everything going on in their bodies as they develop, their energy needs are going to be higher per kilogram of body weight as opposed to an adult. But because they weigh less, their caloric needs will still often be less than an adult.”

Any time you’re trying to calculate caloric needs, especially when it comes to pre-workout carbohydrate needs, the amount per kilogram of body weight that they need is higher than an adult would need. You can use this handy table to get a sense of your child’s needs based on age and sex, but it will vary slightly based on weight. Ziesmer also notes that you might be shocked by how much your athlete needs. Between the energy cost of the workout and the daily requirements for a growing body, they really are burning through those calories.

Hydration matters

Hydration needs are also a bit higher, due to the fact that children have more surface area on their body proportionate to their weight, so they dehydrate faster than adults do. Ziesmer notes that kids, and even teens, are not as aware of hunger or thirst cues, especially during play (or practice). Make sure your athlete is always equipped with a water bottle at school and encourage them to sip steadily throughout the day rather than chugging a liter of water just before practice.

Tell your athlete to eat early

It can be tricky with school schedules and rules around eating in class, but your athlete does need to pre-fuel for practice, especially for practices like cross-country running where energy expenditure is high.

If lunch is early in the day – more than three hours ahead of practice, then Ziesmer recommends, “An hour before practice is good for a small snack because that gives your athlete time to digest their food. When eating an hour before, you need roughly one gram of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight. So, if an athlete is 150 pounds, or 68 kilograms, then they need approximately 68 grams of carbs, 5-10g protein. A sample snack would be 8 ounces of 100 percent fruit juice, 1 serving of whole grain crackers, and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or 1 light string cheese.”

Skip protein bars

"I am not opposed to a Clif Bar, for example, because it’s whole foods that are compressed into bar form,” Ziesmer says. “But I definitely advise against bars that are packed with protein and chemicals, like a Quest bar.” In addition to the highly processed nature of bars, a lot of these bars are marketed for sports but are actually protein-based, so they aren’t ideal for eating ahead of practice.

“The problem with protein bars is if an athlete is eating too much protein before practice, then the stomach is really too busy trying to digest that food,” she explains. “A lot of the athlete's blood is now in the intestines trying to digest the food rather than being delivered to working muscles, which is going to sink the performance."

Aim for whole foods

Ziesmer urges parents to provide whole food options whenever possible in order to ensure that your young athlete doesn’t begin to depend on processed snacks. “It is really hard to get a good balance of macronutrients in a bar, and real food is just a better choice due to digestibility and nutrient content” she adds. Some options that should be easy for your athlete to eat between classes include:

• Half a bagel with nut butter
• Pita with hummus
• Yogurt with fruit and granola
• Half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
• Half of a turkey sandwich
• Handful of pretzels with some watered-down fruit juice

Encourage your athlete to eat the right foods at the right time before a workout for improved performance and decreased likelihood of fatigue and injury.

TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.

 Outfielder Erases Base Hit

Outfielder Erases Base Hit

Monday Manager
By Tom Succow

In this edition of Monday Manager, four-time USA Baseball coaching alum Tom Succow discusses an outfielder's diving catch to erase a base hit. 

Tom Succow is currently the assistant coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 2017, Succow retired as the Head Baseball Coach at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, after 42 years at the helm. Succow accumulated over 700 wins during his tenure, as well as a state championship in 2006 and three state runner-up honors in 1982, 2007 and 2012. Succow is a four-time USA Baseball coaching alum, including an assistant coaching position with the 2003 16U National Team, which won the gold medal in the International Baseball Federation AA World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Succow was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and is a member of four Halls of Fames, being inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, the Brophy Hall of Fame in 2007, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.

 Difficulty of Baseball

Difficulty of Baseball

Cuddyer's Corner
By Michael Cuddyer

Former Major Leaguer Michael Cuddyer reminds us that baseball takes a lot of practice to develop the skills needed to play well. To have your questions answered by Michael Cuddyer, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Michael Cuddyer is a 15-year MLB veteran and two-time All-Star, spending his career playing for the Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies and the New York Mets. A member of the USA Baseball 18U National Team in 1996 and 1997, Cuddyer was then named the 1997 Virginia Player of the Year, Gatorade National Player of the Year, and was a member of USA Today’s All-Star team. He was selected ninth overall in the 1997 MLB Amateur Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins.


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