Below is the 3rd piece in a series of articles written by Dr. Kenneth Ransom designed to educate players, parents and coaches about the sports-related health of their children. The Buckeye Prep Report is proud to be partnering with Dr. Ransom to bring our readers these original articles. Enjoy!
GROW A BASKETBALL TREE
Young basketball players want to grow as tall and be as strong as possible. Height is, to a great extent, determined by genetics; tall parents tend to have tall kids. However there are non-hereditary factors that can help a young man achieve his maximum growth potential. This is especially true during adolescence when a period of rapid growth occurs. From the ages 12 to 16, a male can grow up to 20% of his adult height. Nurturing your child’s growth is a lot like growing a plant. Like a plant, the human body grows better when well nourished. Along with plenty of sleep, eating a healthy sports nutritional diet are the main, non-hereditary factors that can help your son maximize his growth development.
The body needs fuel, or food, to build and work. Growing boys need about 2500 calories a day for normal growth and activity. Up to an additional 1000 calories may be required to meet the demands of intense training and competing. So the average adolescent basketball player can burn up to 3,000 to 4000 calories a day. That’s a lot of chow! The most essential caloric sources in a sports diet are carbohydrates and proteins. Fats cannot and should not be totally avoided but should be limited to the more healthy unsaturated varietals as is found in lean meat, fish and chicken, nuts, vegetable oil, etc. Stay away from fried or fatty foods as much as possible, including most fast foods.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main energy source and should make up about three-fourths of your son’s diet. These foods include fruits, vegetables and grains. However, carbohydrate stores only exist in a limited supply in the body and must be continually replenished on a daily basis. Breakfast is an especially important meal because the body has not consumed nutrients throughout the night and is in a near-fasting state. The body will consume its’ carbohydrate reserves when no exogenous source is provided. So when your son goes to practice or a game later that day his carbohydrate stores will have been depleted so his body will break down protein, or muscle, for fuel instead. This will make him weaker and he will fatigue sooner. On game day, not only should he eat a good breakfast, but consuming carbohydrate snacks during the day will further help preserve his body carbohydrate stores.
Proteins should make up the other one-fourth of the diet, primarily meats and dairy products. Protein foods are the source of amino acids, the building blocks for virtually all types of tissue, including muscle. Proteins along with the carbohydrates should be a regular part of your son’s diet throughout the day. It is also important to consume extra amounts protein right after an intense work out, about 20 grams. This in needed to replenish damaged muscle tissue. Protein bars or shakes work well.
Although a healthy balanced diet will likely provide adequate vitamins and minerals, a one-a-day multivitamin is advisable for any growing teen. A vitamin of particular concern, especially in non-sunny climates like Ohio, is Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for the uptake of Calcium which is required for strong bone development. An adolescent athlete needs about 2000 IU of Vitamin D and 1500 mg of Calcium daily.
Last but not least, the body needs sleep to grow. The majority of bone growth occurs during sleep. Experts claim that adolescents should have 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night for adequate growth and development. Sleep is also critical for body tissue repair, especially muscles. Your son will not only grow more with plenty of rest but will also feel better and be less injury prone
Dr. Kenneth Ransom