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Fad diets may lead to quick weight loss, but they can be extremely dangerous.
Young athletes need to eat well-balanced meals with the right nutrients to support intense workouts. That starts with lean proteins like skinless turkey, chicken or fish to rebuild muscle. A serving of protein is three ounces, about the size of the palm of your hand. Healthful carbs are made from 100% whole grains (like whole wheat pasta or brown rice) and provide energy for competition.
To aid digestion, you also need 25 to 35 grams of fi ber each day from foods like oatmeal, fruits and vegetables. Shoot for five servings of produce a day.
Healthy unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids—from foods like salmon, walnuts, olives, all-natural peanut butter and olive oil—help regulate hormone levels. Consume between 30 and 50 grams of healthful fats each day.
You need to eat all these foods to ensure you’re fueling up like an athlete. No fad diet will do that for you. Follow these three quick tips to make sure you’re eating right:
Don’t Be a Caveman
When our ancestors went for long periods of time without eating, their bodies stored fat in anticipation of famine. And when you try to “diet” by going for long stretches eating too few calories, your brain sends a signal for your body to store fat. To lose weight, you have to keep your body from switching into starvation mode; and the only way to do it is to eat healthful meals and snacks often.
Ballpark Your Calories
Some people like to count calories; others can’t stand it. It’s a good habit to keep track, but don’t obsess. Most teens need a minimum of 2,000 calories a day just to keep their bodies functioning. But athletes—and especially young athletes—may need significantly more than that.
Pick and Stick
When you have a lot of choices for a meal, it’s easy to slip out of good eating habits. For teens, breakfast can be an issue, so find two or three healthy breakfasts that you like—such as oatmeal with low-fat milk, yogurt with fruit, or all-natural peanut butter on 100% whole wheat bread—and eat one every day.