Optimal Health for Maximum Growth in Young Athletes

Optimizing Health Maximizes the Growing Athlete’s Size

Most athletes want to reach their full potential in height, bone, and ligament and tendon strength. Believe it or not, many people can still increase in height into their early 20s. And everyone can continue to increase bone, tendon and ligament strength well past their 20s. Unfortunately, many never reach their full potential in many of these areas, including height, which can set them up for continual injury and disappointment as their athletic endeavors proceed.

You Will Become What You Eat – Or What You Don’t Eat
Obviously none of these growth parameters can happen if you don’t eat – in fact, every part of you would simply shrink as the body begins to feed off itself to stay alive (the portions of what we eat that are deposited in our body are what leads to growth). But what might not be so obvious is the fact that by putting in the right stuff daily, especially as you are growing, you will have the potential to be better in all these growth areas than if you simply eat what you feel like eating. In other words, giving yourself all the right nutrients daily, including supplementing nutrients your diet doesn’t supply, your health and physical stature can be the best you were born to be at each phase of your life. And remember NOBODY accidently gets what we know the body needs to maximize growth from food alone – NOBODY. Without supplementing the diet to cover all your nutritional bases, you will likely miss health and growth opportunities during your height- and structure-building years, especially during puberty and the years immediately after.

Proper Nutrition Will Deliver Your Growth Potential
A modern-day example of adequate nutrition and growth is the fact that recently the average human height has increased at a relatively fast rate. The primary reason for the increase, most of which has come in the last 60 years (and we have been around for over 100,000), is the availability of food. We now get more daily feedings thus amounts of all foods, vitamins and minerals because food is everywhere and we like to eat. This is also become a problem because along with the gains in height, food availability has also led to unhealthy weight gain. But it proves the point that we have always had the potential to be taller and nutrition is the key to unlock our individual genetic potential.

So the question is what is the key to guarantee you reach your growth potential in all areas including height, bone mass, brain development, etc. without putting on unwanted body fat that might otherwise hinder your athletic performance? Because remember what we learned from our previous articles: many young athletes have typical eating patterns that will actually decrease their chances to reach their full adult stature. Proper types, amounts and timing of nutrients are especially critical throughout growth years when nutrition can make its greatest contribution to a young athlete’s future adult overall physical size and strength. Improper nutrition throughout these growth “windows of opportunity” can prevent one from developing to their full potential in all areas i.e. there is no making up for the nutritional shortfall later in adulthood (when is the last time you saw anyone over 25 get taller?).

Adequate versus optimal nutrition

Let’s be perfectly clear, nutritional deficiencies that lead to disease or malnutrition are not what we are discussing; furthermore, those conditions are extremely rare in developed countries. We are talking about OPTIMAL DAILY nutrition – meaning NOT the amount that simply gets you to work, school or practice, but the greatest amounts of all necessary nutrients that the body can use daily to build the strongest, tallest possible structure, especially while the body still has the ability to develop and grow in specific areas.

Common nutritional deficits from daily diets
While most non-dieting athletes will get enough energy (calories) and protein to support any growth potential, it is predominately vitamin D, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils that are the most common potential nutrients that fall short of optimal. These nutrients are often not prevalent in typical American diets and absolutely necessary to maximize development. In fact, lack of vitamin D and omega -3 fatty acids (fish oils) during childhood have been associated with many later-in-life chronic diseases. Lack of adequate calcium up through your early 20s is a primary cause of fractures from osteoporosis later in life. Additionally, youths who experience fractures most often have lower bone mass than those who fracture least with poor nutrition being a common cause -- in particular, calcium, protein, and vitamins D and K. Much of this is caused by “milk avoidance” because milk is the highest source of both calcium and vitamin D and a great protein source. To be sure, studies show “milk avoiders” to fracture bones almost 50% more often and be shorter in stature when compared to milk drinkers or those who use other food or supplement sources to make up the nutrient deficit from not consuming milk.

What you need to do daily
First, eat the best you can including covering your energy needs in total calories, consuming about one gram of protein per pound of body weight and spread meals evenly throughout the day. Second, consume 1000-1500mgs per day of calcium. Third, consume 1000IUs per day of vitamin D. And lastly, consume the equivalent of an average of 600mgs per day of fish oils (DHA & EPA).

Ok great, now how can I do it without thinking about it?

Daily diet
Traditional foods and your pre- and post-training/event shakes should supply the majority of your daily needs.  But the goal is to cover all nutritional bases daily so we don’t miss any windows of growth opportunities while improving health and maintaining desired body fat levels. So, follow to the best of your ability your customized dotFIT Athletic Menu and as you get bigger, stronger and taller, the program will update as necessary based on your measurement inputs. (You’ll find your menus under My Nutrition in the dotFIT Me program. Don’t have a program? Use this link to sign up.
 
Multiple Vitamin & Mineral formula including Vitamin D & K

People of all ages should use a daily multivitamin and mineral formula (MVM) to complement their best efforts to eat the “perfect diet” which may not be desirable, available or definable i.e. no one knows what the perfect diet consists of and science keeps changing our recommendations. Your dotFIT ActiveMV formula contains the necessary vitamin D, K and most other vitamins or minerals that may not be optimally supplied by diet.

Calcium
Do the best you can to get 1000-1500mgs from the diet. Using your FirstString pre- and post-training shakes as directed (one serving mixed with milk has 400mgs) and consuming your recommended diet should help you achieve the goal. If you fall short use the SuperCalcium+ formula as directed.

Fish oils
Try to consume 2-4 servings of fatty fish weekly. If not, take the Super Omega-3 fatty acid formula as necessary to achieve ~ 600mgs/d (360mgs EPA & 240mgs DHA). Or simply take one gel tab daily when not consuming fish.

Find all these products online in the dotFIT store under the Performance and Health categories:
www.dotfit.com/store  

Summary
To be the healthiest, structurally strongest and tallest you can be, you need to eat the best you can and  make sure you have available: milk or a nutrient equivalent substitute, First String shake mix, ActiveMV formula made for athletes, Super Omega-3 fish oil capsules and a calcium supplement. The last 2 items you simply use if needed.

If you follow these simple nutritional safeguards, you will assure your body receives all it can use (even on the occasional days when your diet may be less than optimal) to build you BETTER than the best you can be!

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