Water is essential in our bodies. It keeps us cool, helps with digestion and gets rid of wastes for us.
Water is lost through sweat, breathing and urination, and if it’s not replaced we can become dehydrated.
Dehydration can cause:
- Poor concentration
- Dry mouth
- Cracked lips
During exercise we sweat more than usual, so we need to drink even more water to replace what is lost. Make sure you drink water before, during and after your sports.
Sports drinks such as Powerade and Gatorade are drinks made up of water with added sugars and electrolytes (fancy word for salts and minerals). These drinks can help re-hydrate and re-energise you, but they’re not really necessary unless you’re doing sports for longer than 90 minutes or so, and even then, water and a bit of fruit is still a better choice! You’ll get your hydration from the water, and energy plus bonus fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from the fruit.
Protein powders are often used by athletes and body builders to try and build their muscles stronger and faster than normal. The protein usually comes from milk and has been made into a concentrated powder that is added to water and consumed right before or right after exercise. Proteins are the building blocks of our muscles, but these drinks mostly just give people extra calories, which is essential for muscle building.
Overconsumption of protein powder or drinks can be dangerous. Too much protein can damage your bones and kidneys.
All in all, growing teens do not need to use protein powders. It can be dangerous, and eating a healthy balanced diet that includes the following protein foods regularly is enough to make and keep your muscles strong, and your body healthy:
- Lean meat and poultry
- Fish and seafood
- Dairy (milk, yoghurt and cheese)
- Legumes (chick peas, lentils and beans)
Try to include a protein food in each snack and main meal of your day. This could be:
- Milk in cereal
- Eggs on toast
- Cheese on crackers
- Tuna or ham on sandwiches
- Nuts with afternoon tea
- Meat with three veg at dinner
Eating before and after exercise
If you’re playing sport or doing exercise it’s important to eat before hand to make sure your body has enough energy to perform. This is especially important if you’re working really hard and doing intense activity, but even for light exercise- make sure you have eaten within at least the past 3 or 4 hours.
It’s best to have a carbohydrate containing food before exercise as this is the main fuel source for your muscles.
Eating after you finish exercise is just as important as before. Your body needs more energy to recover and replace what you’ve used. Try to include protein as well as carbs in these snacks, to make sure your muscles recover.
Australian Sports Commission 2015, Australian Institute of Sport – Nutrition, accessed 17th August 2015, www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition