Tips for keeping student athletes hydrated and healthy

WASHINGTON — The Olympics are underway and so is the Redskins’ preseason. But it’s not just the pros who are back in action.

Younger athletes also are heading back to fields and gyms to compete on their school teams. To keep these student athletes performing at their best, Lean Plate Club™ blogger Sally Squires says it’s important to keep them hydrated.

Water is still the best option — particularly if a workout lasts less than an hour. If kids are outdoors in hot temperatures practicing for an hour or more, then you may want to provide juice or a sports drink to help replace electrolytes.

What’s surprising, Squires said, is how many misconceptions there are about hydration. Even at college level, many athletes don’t really understood how much they need to be hydrated during practice.

Squires said student athletes should be loading up on fluids two hours before their workout periods, then continuing to hydrate during and especially afterward to replace fluids.

For younger kids, teams snacks are very important. They’ve got to taste good and be healthy, but not embarrass kids.

Squires recommends chocolate milk as a snack because it’s filled with protein, its chocolate —who doesn’t love chocolate — and it has a lot of calcium. Same for yogurt pouches. And don’t forget about fruit — even dried fruit. If you use nuts or nut butters, make sure there are no nut allergies. In many cases you can use sunflower seeds as a substitute — they have the same consistency and work well. Granola bars or energy bars are also good.

After a workout, or even a practice or a game, the little ones don’t necessarily need to eat right away. But for older kids who have been out there for an hour or more, especially if there’s another workout to come later in the day, it’s good to eat almost right away so they’ll be ready for the next practice.

If you’re bringing something that‘s dairy, be prepared with a cooler to keep it cold — especially if it’s a hot day.

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