Go, Grow and Glow foods for active kids

Go, Grow and Glow foods for active kids

by Amber Drake, Accredited Practicing Dietician

Only 1 out of 5 kids has the recommended 3 serves of dairy every day!

Kids need 3

Only 1 out of 5 kids has the recommended 3 serves of dairy every dayi!  

Dairy is the perfect all round food for kids, especially active kids as it can be considered a Go, Grow and Glow food. Dairy provides 10 essential nutrients including Go nutrients like carbohydrates, Grow nutrients like high quality protein, and Glow nutrients like calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and more.

Kids need 3 serves of dairy every day to help meet their calcium needs. Dairy is one of the richest sources of calcium in our diet, which not only helps to build strong bones and teeth but supports physical activity helping muscles and nerves to function correctly.

A serve of dairy is:

  • 1 glass of milk (250ml)
  • 2 slices or 4 cubes of cheese (40g), or
  • 1 small tub of yogurt (200g)

Before and during exercise

Before and during exercise, kids should focus on topping up carbohydrate stores and maintaining good hydration. Carbohydrates are the main energy source for high intensity exercise. They are also important for keeping blood sugar levels stable and assist with maintaining concentration during school and sports training.

A tub of yogurt, bowl of cereal with milk, cheese and biscuits or a carton of flavoured milk can make easy, practical snacks to boost energy before exercise.

Recovery after exercise

Dairy foods provide all the nutrients required for recovery after exercise. A glass of milk contains 10g of high quality Grow protein to help repair and rebuild muscles, Go carbohydrates to replace muscle glycogen and fluid and electrolytes including sodium and potassium for rehydration. In fact, milk is higher in electrolytes than most sports drinks, which helps active bodies rehydrate by improving fluid retention.

Other quick and easy dairy foods that are suitable recovery snacks for kids include a tub of yogurt, a glass of flavoured milk, drinking yogurt or a smoothie. Ensure snacks are followed by a more substantial meal to complete the recovery process. Depending on the time of day, this might include ideas such as Breakfast BurritosCrunchy Rainbow Coleslaw or Cheesy Pasta. Remember that not all exercise sessions require an immediate recovery snack or meal. If there are a number of days between a single game or training session, there is plenty of time to refuel, and a immediate recovery snack is not critical. However, if your child is participating in a sports carnival or tournament that goes over several hours or days, recovery snacks might be needed to keep energy levels up.

The practical benefits of dairy foods

• There is a big variety of dairy products to choose from.
• Lactose free dairy products are available for kids with lactose intolerance, remembering cheese contains minimal lactose so should be fine for those with a diagnosed intolerance.
• Flavoured milk provides extra carbohydrates and is a good option for those who dislike plain milk.
• Long life milk products are portable and have a long shelf life making them a great meal/snack on the run.
• Dairy products are cost effective.
• Cheese has a high sodium content, which is one of the electrolytes sweated out during high intensity exercise, meaning cheese can be used post exercise to aid fluid retention and rehydration.

More information

For more information about foods for active kids, plus easy and fun recipes and tips visit: www.dairyaustralia.com.au/kidsneed3  

i.Secondary Analysis of the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, CSIRO, 2009, revealed only one out of five children aged 4-11 years is achieving 3 serves of dairy daily as recommended by the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating,1998, as part of a balanced diet across all food groups.


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