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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Nutrition Tips for Athletes with ADHD

From Sporting News

By Nancy Clark

September 5, 2014

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is common among athletes. At school, these kids may not be good at sitting quietly, but they certainly have the energy to excel at sports! They commonly report exercise has a calming, centering effect. Exercise helps them get through their school or workday.

Just as these athletes have trouble organizing their lives, they can also struggle to organize an effective fueling protocol so they have the right foods available at the right times. As a result, they experience low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and hunger that often gets disguised as inability to concentrate, stay focused on a task, edginess, hot temper—to say nothing of reduced athletic performance.

Athletes with ADHD often disregard these symptoms, thinking they relate to their ADHD diagnosis, not hunger and poor diet.

Appetite-killing ADHD meds can easily disrupt normal fueling cycles and contribute to fluctuations in energy. Athletes need steady energy to be able to concentrate and perform at their best. Hence, athletes with ADHD need to vigilantly monitor their bodies for early signs of hunger, including feeling fatigued or moody.

They often reach for caffeine, but they may actually need fuel.

The solution: Plan ahead to prevent craving for sweets (a sign the body is too hungry and wants a sugar-fix). Rather than overindulging in so-called “junk foods” after their appetite-suppressing meds have worn off, they’d be better off enjoying a hearty, protein-rich breakfast at the start of their day, as well as a programmed lunch and afternoon snack that gets’ eaten on a schedule, regardless of appetite.

For more information about management of ADHD in kids and adults:

Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D. is a Boston-area sports dietitian and contributor for Sporting News. Her Sports Nutrition Guidebook has sold more than half a million copies. Both casual and competitive athletes like her book because it is filled with practical suggestions that enhance performance. Read more on her website and follow her on Twitter @nclarkrd.

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