The average young athlete these days is working very hard to achieve their goals, but they’re doing it on a less than optimal nutrition plan.
And more often than not, at the heart of their problem is a total misunderstanding of how to take in adequate amounts of protein.
I’m sure you already know that protein is incredibly important for active people because it helps repair and rebuild broken down muscle tissue that is damaged from exercise, both during sports participation and in programs like ours.
Protein acts as the building blocks, the materials your body uses to rebuild a new and better you.
But it can only be digested in relatively small doses, roughly 20-35 grams per meal.
Considering that active people need between 0.7 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily, that’s a lot of meals that need a good protein source. Even a 125 lb person needs 3-4 protein-rich meals per day.
So how can any kid, athletes in particular, reach this number if they do not eat a quality breakfast?
Let’s take what appears to be a very common scenario with at least the kids we work with, but probably active kids everywhere.
We’ll start at the point you fall asleep, and assume you are getting 8 hours of sleep and do not get up to eat a meal during this time.
With your remaining 16 hours to get in your protein-rich meals, you choose to not eat breakfast, or have :
- a bagel
- pop tart
- French toast
all of which have no proetin at all.
Protein cannot be stored and used for a later time, so when you wake up you are desperately in need of an infusion of fresh building supplies, but you let the fast continue even longer.
That gets you to probably mid-morning, leaving at best 12 hours to reach your rebuilding needs. You’d have to perfectly thread the needle and have a high-protein meal every 3 hours until you go to bed, a nearly impossible task.
So most kids wander through their day underrecovered, developing at a rate that is behind where they could be if they did a better job of spreading their protein meals out throughout their day.
To me, this is where the facination with shakes and supplements comes in for many high school and college athletes. They are trying to make up for a massive nutritonal error to start the day by overloading their diet with protein later on.
There is nothing wrong with a protein bar or shake sometimes if its not more than about 30 grams worth.
But in huge amounts your body just can’t process it all at once, so most of what you pay big money for literally gets flushed away.
Breakfast is so important for so many reasons, but for active athletes and kids everywhere it is the chance to replenish their protein stores at the start of the day that makes it most valuable.
It is such an athletic advantage that, if you aren’t eating a protein-rich breakfast right now, starting to do so might be the single greatest way you have to improve the performance you see from your workouts and sports practices this summer.
Here are some better breakfast choices for ending your overnight protein fast:
- Yogurt (Greek Yogurt has more protein)
- Ham or another lean meat
- Lowfat milk
BETTER THAN NOTHING CHOICES:
- Peanut butter
- Protein bar or shake