Sports and Nutrition-The Winning Connection
Keeping Energy Levels Up

Food Energy Needs Increase

Participating in sports can drastically increase your food energy needs. Increased physical activity calls for more food calories. Also, when you train, you increase muscle tissue relative to fat tissue, and muscle tissue requires more calories than fat tissue. Going out for sports can easily increase the daily calorie needs of a teen athlete by 2,000 or more. A teenage boy out for a sport like football or basketball may consume 5,000 or more calories daily.

The amount of food you need depends on your age, sex, weight, and activity level. A larger athlete requires more calories that a smaller one because more energy is needed to move more mass over the same distance. You usually burn more calories in a practice session than in actual competition because more total work is usually done during practice. However, the rate at which calories are burned for short periods of time may be greater from short bursts of intense activity during competition. Activity levels vary among sports as well as with the position played in a sport.

Obviously, it takes more energy to play basketball that baseball, and more energy to run 1,600 meters than the 100 meter dash.

If an athlete who is in shape loses body weight during a competitive season, it's a good indication that he or she isn't eating enough energy-providing food. Young athletes should be weighed once a week throughout the season to guard against unhealthy weight loss caused by inadequate food intake.

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Sports and Nutrition—The Winning Connection

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