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SF 0014: Concussions and Nutrition

Concussions and Nutrition


Get our 3 part series on Recovery…just click here!


The Question:

My daughter had a concussion and I don’t know what to do because she’s not progressing like we thought she would.

The Answer:

Hey there! Welcome back to the Stay Fueled Podcast! My name is Dr. Joshua Eldridge and I am the founder of Stay Fueled. I’m going to be your host today. Today, we have a question from Diane, and this one makes me really sad to bring this one to your attention, but it’s got to be done. “My daughter had a concussion and I don’t know what to do because she’s not progressing like we thought she would.”

So that was the question. And whew, concussions are so tough because we can’t see the injury. You can take an X-ray or an MRI or a CT scan and see concussions. And that’s what makes them so tough, is sometimes our athletes are having these symptoms. And we know something’s off, but we don’t exactly know what to do. So this is a podcast about nutrition, so we’re going to talk about that. But first, let me tell you what I think. That if your athlete has a concussion, get them in to a children’s hospital that specializes in concussions.

I know we have Seattle Children’s Hospital right here in Seattle, Washington. That’s where I’m from. And they have a concussion clinic with physicians that specialize in concussions. There are some other great professionals as well that are out there that take care of concussions, but find one that knows what the current information is. And if they haven’t heard of the new concussion guidelines, then I wouldn’t go and see them. Your primary care probably isn’t going to know about it. Go to a specialist that understands what’s going on with your young athlete and knows how to provide for them.

So, that’s my soapbox. Let’s get back to nutrition and concussions. The Army did a study. Actually, the Department of Defense did a study on soldiers and this was after IEDs when they had a head injury. And what they found is if they fed them a meal – it was something like within 15 minutes of the head injury occurring – they were able to decrease the chance of mortality in these soldiers. And these meals had to be high in Omega 3 fatty acids. So that was something like a meal with salmon included in it. So they were finding that when they feed these athletes Omega 3s, that their brains were responding a lot better and they were less likely to die.

Now, chances are, your athlete who experienced a concussion isn’t going to die, but I think that we can apply some of those principles to this subject of concussions and head injuries and nutrition. We want to make sure that we give our athletes and their brains exactly what they need during these times of injury. We’ve got to make sure they’re getting rest.

One of the biggest things that they’re recommending now is cognitive rest for concussions. Cognitive rest means pretty much turning the light off, going in a dark room and sleeping for 48 hours to 7 days. So that’s one of the biggest recommendations that’s coming out now.

The other ones are just eating great food during these times of healing and making sure that we’re getting Omega 3 fatty acids into their bodies. And sometimes during injury – and most of us don’t know this – but sometimes during injury, nutrition needs go up. So the body actually needs more calories, but great calories. So we don’t want to feed them junk food during this time. We don’t want them sitting on the couch, eating Twinkies. We want them following a specific plan that has great food.

And I think that’s where Stay Fueled can come in and be your guide for this and help you plan out your meals. That’s what we’ve done. We’ve taken great nutrition for athletes and we’ve put it in an easy to use guide for you so that you get a menu every week, you get recipes that are ridiculously delicious, and then you get a shopping list that ties it all together so that you can go shopping. In your cupboards, check off the stuff you already have. And then, head to the store, get what you need, come home and prepare the food for your young athletes. And that’s what it’s all about, is making sure our athletes stay protected.

So thank you, Diane, for submitting that question. Concussions are rough. I hate to see young athletes suffering from this, but it happens and we have to protect them and we have to let them heal. One of the biggest things that we can do for them is make sure that they’re getting rest and proper nutrition.

If you have a question just like Diane did, head on over to our site at On the right hand side, there’s a place where you can leave a voicemail for us and be featured right here on the Stay Fueled Podcast. I would be excited to bring your question and highlight it on the Stay Fueled Podcast.

The other thing I want you to do is while you’re there at the site, there’s a place where you can leave your email and join us on our newsletter, our email newsletter, and we’re going to send you a three-part series on recovery. And recovery is essential for your young athletes to make sure that they’re able to withstand the day-to-day rigors of being an athlete and protected and go to school.

So there’s a lot of different things, a lot of different needs on your young athlete’s bodies. We want to make sure they’re ready to take on those needs and those challenges. So that’s what our three-part series on recovery does for you, is it just gives you tons of information in order to protect your young athlete.

My name is Dr. Joshua Eldridge, founder of Stay Fueled, and I’m just excited that you’re here, that you’ve joined us, that you want to be a part of taking care of your athlete through nutrition.

We’ll see you next time on the Stay Fueled Podcast. Have an awesome day!.

Nutrition Trouble Shooting Guide for Young Athletes, Part 1

We’ve taken our most commonly asked questions and given you easy to find answers!  Here’s what we cover in this post:

  • What Should I Drink at Practice?
  • How Much Should I drink at Practice?
  • How Much Water Should I Drink During the day?
  • What should I eat if I want to become more flexible?
  • What should I eat when I have injury, ache, or pain?

What Should I Drink at Practice?

Simple!: Mostly water during the day and Powerade at Practice.

Any time practice is over 2 hours in length, a carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage such as Powerade or Gatorade (or home-made alternative) is a must. These beverages are more efficiently absorbed during a workout than plain water. This way the fluid can get to the muscles where it is needed.

Having a 0 calorie drink is no different than drinking plain water.

How Much Should I drink at Practice?

Must studies on drinking fluid at practice state that bodily mature athletes need 16 fl oz of liquid every hour during practice.  This is a guideline.

It’s also been shown for athletes that do intermittent work (think football, gymnastics, baseball, basketball), switching from plain water to a carbohydrate drink (gatorade or an all natural half water/half apple juice mixture) can increase the ability to do work by 33%.  That’s HUGE!

If your athlete has not yet reached body maturity, you can scale the 16 fl oz to fit their needs.

It may take an athlete’s body a couple of weeks to adjust to the increase in fluid, so it is best to start slow and work up to your optimal hydration goal.

When an athlete is properly hydrated, you will see a huge difference on and off the field!

How Much Water Should I Drink During the day?

Again, it is not a perfect science, but a 5’ tall 120 lbs athlete should drink at least one whole gallon of fluid per day in addition to practice drinks.

A 4’6” tall 80 lbs athlete should drink at least 2/3 of a gallon per day.

Fluid should come mostly from plain water during non-practice hours, but juice, milk, and soups count too. Help your athlete to track his or her intake every few days to make sure he or she is on the right track.

What should I eat if I want to become more flexible?

Hydration is the most important aspect of nutrition for flexibility in young (or old) athletes.

Dry muscles are like a dry sponge. They are brittle and resist stretching. Hydrated muscles stretch like taffy!

Make sure to drink water when you first wake up, all day at school, between classes, before gym, with every meal, and right before you go to bed.

Your muscles will thank you and your flexibility will show it!

What should I eat when I have injury, ache, or pain?

Stay well hydrated and concentrate on foods containing Omega 3’s, vitamin E, and Vitamin C. Nuts, oils, and fish contain large amounts of Omega 3’s and Vitamin E. Fresh fruits and veggies like strawberries, oranges, Kiwi, cantaloupe, and green peppers contain Vitamin C.

These foods, in conjunction, will decrease inflammation and promote healing.

Be sure to notify your coach or trainer of any possible injury.