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Active Lifestyles, Rehabilitation and the Role of a Healthy Diet

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating a variety of healthy foods each day, with a balance from each of the four food groups to ensure a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in our diets to maintain a healthy body.

The start of another school year brings about new opportunities for children, adolescents and young athletes to participate in new active programs. Here are some ways in which a healthy diet and nutrition can support new goals:

Children in Active Sports The minimum nutritional and energy requirements are similar for prepubescent boys and girls.

Based on the Canadian Paediatric Society, the ideal diet comprises of:

  • 45% to 65% carbohydrates

  • 10% to 30% protein

  • 25% to 35% fat.

Fluids should be consumed before, during and after athletic events to ensure proper hydration.

Recovery foods should be consumed within 30 min of exercise, and again within 1 h to 2 h of exercise, to ensure proper recovery.

Adolescents / Adults in Active Sports

A recent study demonstrated that adolescent athletes benefit from sport nutrition knowledge and team-based nutrition interventions. High school soccer players were motivated to learn and improve diet behaviours (Patton-Lopez et al., 2018)

According to Dieticians of Canada, for most athletes, it is beneficial to:

  • Plan for a lower fat diet (eg. lower fat milk products and lower fat grain products) in order to get more carbohydrate for fuel and protein for muscle growth and repair

  • During heavier training periods, choose more fruits and grains for extra fuel

  • Maintain a minimum of 20-45 healthy unsaturated fats per day

  • Select lean meats and alternatives with minimal preservatives.

It is important to note that injuries are part of exercise participation and an active season may also mean a necessary rehabilitation period. Nutritional interventions may also help improve this recovery process. For example, past research has shown that a higher protein intake, evenly consumed during the day, will help to minimize loss of muscle and strength during immobilization, and overall improved nutritional habits help to reduce surgical complications and support a higher chance of safe return to play. If you have further inquiries on incorporating nutritional strategies for your individual needs, our dietitian and team of allied health care practitioners are trained to help with your goals in mind.

References Purcell LK; Canadian Paediatric Society, Paediatric Sports and Exercise Medicine Section. Sport nutrition for young athletes. Paediatr Child Health. 2013;18(4):200-205. doi:10.1093/pch/18.4.200 Sports Nutrition: Facts on Carbohydrate, Fat and Protein.,-Fat-and-P.aspx

Patton-Lopez MM, Manore MM, Branscum A, Meng Y, Wong SS. Changes in Sport Nutrition Knowledge, Attitudes/Beliefs and Behaviors Following a Two-Year Sport Nutrition Education and Life-Skills Intervention among High School Soccer Players. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1636. Published 2018 Nov 2. doi:10.3390/nu10111636

Smith-Ryan AE, Hirsch KR, Saylor HE, Gould LM, Blue MNM. Nutritional Considerations and Strategies to Facilitate Injury Recovery and Rehabilitation. J Athl Train. 2020 Sep 1;55(9):918-930. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-550-19. PMID: 32991705; PMCID: PMC7534941.

The above content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately

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