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  • Writer's pictureStefanie Rock

Help! My athlete won't eat meat!

If there's one thing that's predictable about an adolescent's appetite, it's that it's completely unpredictable! Favorite foods suddenly become unappealing (usually after just restocking the fridge or pantry), and aversions in taste or texture seemingly change daily. Refusal to eat meat, however, (due to ethical, religious, or taste/texture) is one of the biggest concerns I hear from parents.

Certainly, with the heavily marketed importance of protein, frustrations are understandable.

But are the concerns necessary?

Protein definitely plays a crucial role in the body. Like the oil in a car, without it, the engine (body) isn't going to run effectively and is at risk for breakdown (too much isn't beneficial either, but that's a different post!).

Protein, however, isn't just one entity; it's made up of 20 different amino acids (like building blocks) that connect to form different proteins (like BCAA's) utilized for various tasks throughout the body (muscle repair, hormone balancing, nutrient transport...).

The tricky part about these 20 amino acids, though, is that our body can only make 11 of them on its own... 9 of them are considered "essential" because they have to come from our food.

When foods contain all 20 amino acids, they're considered "complete." Animal proteins (beef, poultry, pork, seafood) are all "complete proteins."

But, they aren't the only complete protein options. And, even though many foods are considered "incomplete," when paired together in common combinations- like beans and rice- we have a complete protein!

While a strict vegan diet is challenging without nutritional guidance for athletes to meet their nutritional needs for sport & growth, incorporating alternative protein sources can be an effective way to add nutrient variety to an athlete's plate... and save money at the grocery store.

Alternative complete protein options?

  • milk, yogurt, cheese

  • eggs

  • edamame (v)

  • chia seeds (v)

  • flax seeds (v)

  • tofu (v)

  • quinoa (v)

  • beans & rice (together)

  • nut butter & whole grain bread

  • hummus & pita bread

What about protein supplements? Even though they're readily available, protein supplements come with their own risks... especially for youth and teen athletes.

Still concerned your athlete isn't meeting their nutritional needs to support sports and growth? Ready to strengthen their four foundation pillars to reduce risk of injury and increase energy?

Let's chat!

Click here with questions to see how Rock Performance can help your athlete and family.


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