I recently wrote a post on youth athlete nutrition. The demands on a youth athlete's body are high and thus the nutritional needs are high, but that doesn't mean you need to break the bank feeding them.
Below I break down budget friendly ways to help your athlete meet their macro nutrient needs throughout the day.
As I mentioned, I'm not overly concerned about the leanness of the cut for the youth athlete since they need calories, so some staples you should consider buying are pork butt or pork shoulder, which are often around $.99 a pound. If you're concerned about the fat content, you can always trim a lot of that off before or syphon it off after you cook it.
If you'd like to buy lean meats for your athlete, I've found that bulk buying of chicken is the way to go -- I've found really good deals at Target, Trader Joes, or Aldi, sometimes as low as $1.99 a pound.
I've also relied on wholesale markets for restaurants, not the GPS or Sam's Club style, but lesser known meat wholesalers. To find one, ask your local ethnic restaurant where they get their meat. Often, these mom and pop restaurants go buy their meat for the week instead of having it delivered like bigger chains.
The cost at these markets are significantly cheaper and you can get mass quantities. In DC, boneless skinless chicken breast was around $.99 for a TWENTY POUND BAG. I'd take it home, portion it up into 4 5-pound bags, cook one up and freeze the rest.
Another great way to get more protein in the diet is through protein shakes. Now, buying protein from the store can be awfully pricey, so I'd recommend buying in bulk online. The website I use is www.truenutrition.com. They've got all sorts of products and proteins, but I'd recommend buying a simple whey isolate powder like THIS. It's $10.99 for 16 servings of 24 grams of protein. Two scoops of this replaces one chicken breast. That's a heck of a deal. I like getting a cinnamon flavor because it mixes well milk, is a great addition to cereal, or is good in yogurt. I order a 5 pound bag at a time and it'll last me several months (there is a bulk discount too!).
Carbs are thankfully a lot cheaper per pound than protein. All your carbs don't have to be consumed through salad or broccoli or other vegetables, HOWEVER, not all your carbs should be consumed through just rice. For every meal, I do about a 2/3 to 1/3 split of easy carb to vegetable.
For easy carbs, I'll cook up a bunch at the beginning of the week -- like 3 pounds of rice, a bunch of sweet potatoes, or a lot of pasta. I then cook up a mess of broccoli, buy bag of baby spinach, or buy pre-made salad kits. Then, for each meal, warm up easy carb, my veggie, and the meat and BOOM, the meal is served!
The value of this is, you don't have to spend a fortune feeding your kid salad every meal to the size they'd need to get their appropriate macros (2x their body weight in grams!!).
I eat a lot of the same things over and over because I view nutrition as a means to an end, not as an experience. If I want to eat something awesome, I'll eat out at a restaurant.
For snacks, I really like mixing protein powder, natural peanut butter, and banana in to a MASSIVE bowl of cereal. It's great for breakfast when I'm in a hurry, for an afternoon snack, or a post-dinner snack. For your snacks, I recommend making them balanced with some carb and some protein, not necessarily just one or the other. Hummus, peanut butter, beef jerky and carrots, a protein shake are all excellent snacks.
SUPPLEMENTS I RECOMMEND
I already discussed Protein Powders above. Other supplements I recommend (and where to buy them) for every athlete are bulleted below:
Creatine: This is one of the most controversial and highly studied supplements on the market. It is controversial because it was blamed for some heat exhaustion issues back in the early 2000's (when I was in HIGH SCHOOL!!). Those issues have roundly been discredited. This is an essential supplement and will help your athlete maintain energy levels during workouts, help them put on muscle mass, and increase their metabolic functioning when not working out. It really is an amazing supplement. You can buy it at True Nutrition HERE for a heckuva deal. I dry scoop two scoops and wash it down with my morning water every day.
Fish Oil: Fish oil is great for the joints, is a healthy fat to help increase blood flow, and helps with cognitive development. I take two big pills a night before bed. You can buy it wherever, most of them are pretty much the same.
Calcium Magnesium Zinc: These supplements help with bone growth, help reduce stress, and help reduce inflammation. I take two big pills of THIS COMBO from Whole Foods before bed. I recommend taking them before bed because they have the added benefit of aiding the body in relaxing to maximize your night's sleep.
Vitamin D3: Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and make stronger bones. It also boosts the immune system and is a fat soluble vitamin that helps a lot of other trains of the body run on time. Anywhere you buy this is good with me!
SUPPLEMENTS I DON'T RECOMMEND
Pre-Workouts: I'm not a big fan of pre-workouts for youth athletes. Often times they're just loaded with caffeine and other supplements that aren't helpful for the type of training your athlete is doing and their age. Yes, there are some positives of pre-workout, but at such a young age, I'd rather your child's natural hormones push them through a workout rather than a bunch of extra crap in the pre-workouts. If your child feels like they need them, then they probably just need more rest, a better night's sleep, and better nutrition habits. Once those things are straightened away, your energetic, growing athlete should have no problem cranking out workouts.