Q. My 10-year-old son plays ice hockey, a very high intensity sport, what should he be eating and drinking before and after his practices and games?
A. Hydration is always important for any active person. When bodies sweat, electrolytes are lost (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, etc.) and must be replaced to help muscles properly contract. Fruits and vegetables provide some water as well as electrolytes. A balanced diet that includes whole grains, protein (eggs, beans, meat, soy, and nuts), fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are key for optimal health and performance for anybody. Most athletes are able to replace electrolytes through their normal diet and don’t require ‘sports drinks’. For heavy sweaters, sport drinks can help replace lost electrolytes. Dehydration is one of the most common mistakes that can harm performance, so be sure to start exercise well hydrated. Drink 1 ounce per each 10 pounds of body weight 3-4 hours prior to exercise. When sweating during exercise, drink every 10-20 minutes during a workout. Don’t overdrink either; if you weigh more after exercise than before; that means you drank more than what you needed. If you are stuck trying to figure out the perfect balance, work with a registered dietitian in your area.