Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
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©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine ( 2007 ) 06 , 343 - 352

Review article
Carbohydrate Intake Considerations for Young Athletes
Veronica Montfort-Steiger, Craig A. Williams 
Author Information
Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre, School of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, UK

Craig A. Williams
✉ Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre, School Of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, St. Luke’s Campus, Heavitree, Exeter EX1 2LU, England, UK
Email: c.a.williams@exeter.ac.uk
Publish Date
Received: 07-03-2007
Accepted: 18-07-2007
Published (online): 01-09-2007
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ABSTRACT

Good nutritional practices are important for exercise performance and health during all ages. Athletes and especially growing children engaged in heavy training have higher energy and nutrient requirements compared to their non-active counterparts. Scientific understanding of sports nutrition for the young athlete is lacking behind the growing number of young athletes engaged in sports. Most of the sports nutrition recommendations given to athletic children and adolescents are based on adult findings due to the deficiency in age specific information in young athletes. Therefore, this review reflects on child specific sports nutrition, particularly on carbohydrate intake and metabolism that distinguishes the child athlete from the adult athlete. Children are characterised to be in an insulin resistance stage during certain periods of maturation, have different glycolytic/metabolic responses during exercise, have a tendency for higher fat oxidation during exercise and show different heat dissipation mechanisms compared to adults. These features point out that young athletes may need different nutritional advice on carbohydrate for exercise to those from adult athletes. Sport drinks for example may need to be adapted to children specific needs. However, more research in this area is warranted to clarify sports nutrition needs of the young athlete to provide better and healthy nutritional guidance to young athletes.

Key words: Exercise, diet, nutrients, children, sport drinks


           Key Points
  • Athletic girls show lower carbohydrate intakes compared to boys.
  • Substrate oxidation during exercise appears to be maturity related, fat being the preferred fuel for oxidation in younger athletic children.
  • Children appear to have lower endogenous but greater exogenous carbohydrate oxidation rates during exercise.
  • Carbohydrate intake during exercise appears to show no additional performance improvement in young athletes. Perhaps fat intake or a combination of both nutrients may be a better approach for nutrient supplementation during exercise.
  • Gastric emptying physiology of young athletes is not well known. Adult sport drinks showed a tendency to delay gastric emptying in young athletes during exercise at higher intensities.
  • More research is needed in paediatric sports nutrition.
 
 
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