(BPT) – If you’ve got kids, you probably know how much energy they exert every day, whether they’re just playing outside or participating in organized sports. As kids grow, develop and become more active, you may be looking for better ways to support their health and help them recover after sports training and games. Fortunately, registered dietitian and sports nutritionist Sarah Koszyk offers tips for parents to understand what kids need to stay energized and keep building strong bones and muscles.
Choose a protein/carb post-exercise combo
“When your kids exercise they use glycogen, a primary energy source, which needs to be replenished so they can carry on with their day,” said Koszyk, explaining that carbs increase the rate of muscle glycogen synthesis for faster recovery and more energy. Carbs also help reduce muscle soreness, while protein helps restore and build muscle — so a snack combining the two is the perfect combination to enhance recovery.
“Think of a fabulous snack like yogurt which has both carbs and protein, along with fruit (which has carbs) for a balanced combo,” recommended Koszyk. “Don’t offer kids sugary juices or sports drinks after a workout, because they’ll be missing out on necessary protein.”
Look for superfoods to boost recovery
Beyond kids fueling up and recovering from playing hard by eating protein and carbs, they also need certain ‘superfoods’ for extra health benefits. Superfoods enhance sports performance and recovery at any age, after a tough workout or other physical activity. They provide nutrients that are vital for energy, repairing muscles and restoring health, especially for active kids.
“Children really need superfoods to power and repair their growing bodies, on the field or on the court, so they can stay strong while developing their physical skills,” added Koszyk.
Here are three groups of superfoods she recommends for optimal sports recovery, and some of the foods and drinks that provide them.
1. Leucine is one of the branch chain amino acids (BCAA), an essential nutrient that goes straight to muscles for optimal repair. Leucine increases muscle growth and lean body mass, helping bodies recover faster from exercise.
“Leucine is also crucial for kids who are constantly growing and need extra muscle support,” said Koszyk.
Leucine-rich foods include:
- Milk, yogurt and cheese
- Chicken, beef and tuna
- Clover the Rainbow Smoothies made with milk, yogurt, fruits and veggies, for a high-quality source of leucine to stimulate muscle growth and repair.
2. Probiotics are live microorganisms that are beneficial for gut health and a strong immune system. Intense exercise can strain your immune system, making probiotic consumption even more important to promote a healthy gut.
“Recent research suggests that probiotics found in fermented foods such as yogurt decrease inflammation caused by exercise, improving recovery,” said Koszyk. “Probiotics support gut health, and the gut absorbs and digests key nutrients necessary for overall health and a strong immune system.”
Probiotic-rich foods include fermented foods like:
- Clover the Rainbow Smoothies are also packed with billions of probiotics for optimal gut support and immune strength in just one six-ounce, delicious smoothie.
3. Antioxidants reduce oxidation, minimize cell damage and are anti-inflammatory, helping your child’s body remain strong no matter how hard they play.
Antioxidant-rich foods include:
- Butternut squash
To boost antioxidants on-the-go, grab a Clover the Rainbow Smoothie — a powerhouse of nutrients with every sip of three kid-friendly flavors: Blueberry Beet, Strawberry Banana Butternut or Strawberry Carrot. This nutrient-packed, energy-rich recovery snack helps your kids refuel and recover in one tasty drink. Clover the Rainbow Smoothies are a portable snack with 8 grams of protein, plus carbs, leucine, probiotics and antioxidants to optimize repair and recovery after exercise.
“Sometimes it’s hard to make sure kids eat the nourishing diet they need for their overall well-being and especially for sports recovery,” said Koszyk. “Options kids really enjoy, like Clover the Rainbow organic fruit and veggie smoothies, not only power their active bodies, but also their active minds while on-the-go.”
Learn where you can find Clover the Rainbow Smoothies near you by visiting CloverTheRainbow.com.