Pairing Nutrition, Hydration Help Youth Athletes Maintain Good Health
Baseball and softball are often summer sports, played in the heat and humidity. But, it doesn’t need to be hot for families to make sure proper steps are being taken to stay hydrated and healthy on the field.
Becoming educated on body chemistry, and gaining knowledge on how to prepare for, and recover from, physical exertion is important, regardless of age. Below are several areas of discovery that can help you manage the health of your Little Leaguers.
Being Ready Includes Proper Hydration
- Drink fluids throughout the day, not just during your Little League activities.
- Make sure you have water or sports drink available at practice and games to stay hydrated while being active.
- Recognize signs and effects of dehydration – Examples: feeling weak, lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea.
- Pay extra attention to players and volunteers with a heightened risk of dehydration (i.e. – catchers, umpires), especially on days with high heat and humidity. Umpires should also work with the teams to give longer breaks between innings or additional timeouts to allow for players to re-hydrate and cool their body temperatures on especially hot days.
Diet Helps with Staying Hydrated
- Eat foods with high water content and carbohydrates – Examples: fruits, vegetables, soups, smoothies, popsicles.
- Include carbohydrates and protein in snacks and meals – Examples: breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheese, meat, fish, eggs.
- Schedule meals several hours before activity
- Consume snacks up to one hour before activity
Take the Proper Steps to Help the Body Recover
- When cooling down after a game, consider what to include in your player’s post-game meal or snack.
- Consume protein to rebuild muscles – Examples: cheese sticks and crackers, chocolate or strawberry milk, Greek yogurt, muffins or cookies, egg and cheese sandwich, or a protein shake make good snacks.
- For a meal, water or tea are good beverage options.
- Grill chicken, turkey, and ham are quality entrees, and can be paired with healthy side options, such as apple slices or baked chips.
- Dessert options are to be low in fat, but avoid anything listed as, “sugar-free.”
- Avoid greasy, fried, and supersized food; and any options that are heavy with condiments or toppings.
Understanding Sweat Science
Sweat is the way the body regulates its internal temperature. Learn more about what the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) has discovered about the many ways sweat impacts an individual athlete’s hydration needs.