n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Nutritional care of the elite child and adolescent athlete : part I - energy and nutrient needs : health issues

Volume 15, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


This article (the first of two parts) presents a review of the energy, macronutrients and micronutrients needs of young athletes in the light of optimal growth and performance. Maintaining a positive energy balance is an important nutritional objective for young elite athletes to ensure normal growth and development. The degree of catch-up growth following a negative energy balance will depend on the time and magnitude of the preceding negative energy balance. Energy needs can be calculated from various formulas or usual energy intake can be adapted to achieve individualized need e.g. weight gain, loss, or maintenance. Growth should be monitored using growth charts and body composition can be assessed with skin folds or body fat percentages. Anthropometric measurements should be limited to twice yearly and too much emphasis on an ideal body weight is discouraged. Young athletes should consume a diet moderate to high (±50%) daily energy intake (TE)) in micronutrient dense carbohydrate-rich foods, 12 - 15% TE of protein-rich foods and ±30% TE from healthy dietary fats. Iron and calcium are most likely to be low in the diets of young elite athletes. A daily iron intake of 8.0 mg in children 9 - 13 years and 11-15 mg for adolescent males and females, respectively are recommended. Children 9 - 13 years and adolescents should ingest 1300 mg calcium per day which can be achieved by having ~3 milk and/or dairy servings per day.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error