, , by Peter Whitehead

Diet and nutrition for active boys

Every second 37 billion trillion chemical reactions occur in our body. We are finely balanced chemical beings, and our diet has a huge impact on our biochemistry.

To perform at our best, we need coordinated and effective chemical reactions. Just like a conductor directing an orchestra to create a harmonious and cohesive masterpiece.

Much of the advice around diet and nutrition is misinformed and over complicated. You shouldn’t need a biochemistry degree to interpret advice for your son to thrive in school or on the sporting field.

Let’s focus on 5 simple and effective guidelines that we know will make a positive impact on your son:

Encourage a diverse and colorful diet

  • Encourage a diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables. It is recommended that 30+ different plants, herbs and legumes are consumed each week for optimal gut microbiome health. These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants important for overall health and well-being.

Useful tip: Add blueberries, avocado, spinach, zucchini, and kale to a smoothie – they will never know!

Combine protein and fibre when snacking

  • Teenage boys will consume large amounts of food between meals through snacking. Aim to combine protein and fibre in a snack. For example, yoghurt and fruit.
  • Most quick snacks are highly processed and low in protein, fibre and essential nutrients. To avoid these snacks don’t buy them.
  • Our bodies are made from proteins. Growing boys need lots of protein to grow and develop.

Useful tip: Cook 3 chicken breasts and slice at the start of the week – this is easy and quick to add into a wrap.

Regular balanced whole food meals

  • Whole foods are nutrient dense which means they fill your son up quicker and for longer than highly processed foods. Whole foods help maintain stable energy levels and support concentration in the classroom.
  • Skipping meals can lead to fatigue, poor concentration, and decreased athletic performance.
  • Breakfast is particularly important for providing energy for the day ahead. Encourage a balanced breakfast that includes protein, whole grains, and fruits.

Useful tip: Replace breakfast cereal with a whole food, high protein option e.g. Eggs. Or replace a lunch box with a thermos flask and heat up the leftovers from last night’s meal.

Drink 3-4 litres of water per day

  • Dehydration can negatively impact both cognitive function and physical performance.
  • Active boys need regular hydration.
  • Avoid sugary drinks such as fruit juice – this is not going to help his blood glucose levels.

Useful tip: Drink one cup of water when you first wake up, most people wake up slightly dehydrated.

Timing of meals

  • Consuming high protein and carbohydrate foods in the first 30mins after physical activity is essential to recovery and maintaining concentration/focus.
  • Try to avoid eating late at night, ideally avoid food 2-3 hours prior to bed for optimal sleep hyenine.

Useful tip: Get your son to pack a post work out snack in his training bag.


Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School

Peter Whitehead is Head of Health and Physical Education at Brighton Grammar, an all-boys school in Melbourne. This article is about , ,


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