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Feeding your child athlete Halifax NS

There likely isn't a parent out there who hasn't wondered if their children are eating the food they need to grow and thrive. But for parents whose c ...

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Feeding your child athlete

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(NC)-There likely isn't a parent out there who hasn't wondered if their children are eating the food they need to grow and thrive. But for parents whose children are competitive athletes, visions of an Olympian future come complete with concerns about their eating.

Dr. Brian Timmons is answering some of those concerns. The McMaster University researcher received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to look at whether high-performing child athletes are getting the protein they need to fuel their involvement in sports as well as their growth.

His conclusions are comforting. He found that child athletes are eating about twice as much protein on a daily basis as recommended for all children, regardless of activity level. And even when they are on a diet that restricts them to the recommended daily amount of protein, while maintaining a normal number of calories, they still get what enough protein to maintain growth.

"It was the most boring diet ever," Dr. Timmons says of the experimental diet the child athletes were required to follow.

While the reduced- protein diet was enough to support the children's growth, it probably wasn't the best diet for a high performance athlete. Dr. Timmons now wonders whether the body uses the limited amount of protein for energy and growth at the expense of other functions in the body, such as the immune system. This is something he wants to investigate further.

The bottom line, says Dr. Timmons, is that if your child is involved in a sport where there is a tendency to reduce calories - such as wrestling or gymnastics - you should make sure that he or she is getting enough protein. Otherwise, if your child is eating enough calories from a variety of healthy foods, he or she is likely to get enough protein - that's a relief to parents, whether their children are future Olympians or just active kids.

For more information, visit www.impact.cihr.gc.ca.

Credit: www.newscanada.com