See the full section on maintaining energy in sport in the Balanced Female Health handbook or read a summary of key points below.
Understanding the energy demands of young people
The human body requires energy (nutrition and recovery) to support all the key body systems. Energy demands naturally increase during puberty and adolescence due to the increased requirements for growth and development. During this time, it is important to support a higher food intake.
It is important for young people to eat nutrient dense foods from a variety of food groups, including fruit and vegetables. Additional calcium (to support bone growth and strength) and iron (to support menstruation and lean muscle mass) may be required.
Additionally, puberty usually coincides with a time of high energy output of young people who may be involved in multiple sports or physical activities, increasing academic work, part-time jobs and social interactions. Therefore, young people need to fuel for the total energy demands of their lives.
Encourage young people to get 8+ hours sleep per night to reduce the risk of illness and injury and aid recovery. Sleep also plays a major part in mental wellbeing. Monitor the number of early morning (or late) sessions or activities which impact sleep duration.
As coaches, instructors or parents you can:
- Encourage and assist young people to plan ahead and prepare the fuel they require around their schedule.
- Monitor the workload of young people (volume and intensity) as well as the demands of a busy schedule (school, work etc.).
- Ensure young people have balanced lives within sport and other physical activities.
- Have conversations with young people’s parents, coaches, leaders and teachers if they show signs of low energy, female health related issues, injury or poor health.
Support overall balance in young people’s lives. This includes sleep, recovery, a mix of activities and social and emotional connections. Focus on listening to young people and understanding their unique needs.