A winning start

Hey kids!

Two exciting things are happening this month: the Summer Olympics and the beginning of a new school year.

The best athletes in the world are competing at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. On TV, you can watch men and women participate in 28 sports, including diving, fencing, weightlifting, synchronized swimming, taekwondo, volleyball, rowing, judo, and archery.

Long before these athletes can ­compete for Olympic gold, their ­bodies have to be motivated, focused and strong. Many of them began ­training at an early age. Health experts tell us that it's nutritious food that gives athletes the edge they need to get up to the metal stand.

When school starts, one of the most important things you can do is give your body the nutrients it needs to grow strong.

And it all begins with breakfast.

Statistics show that kids who eat breakfast do ­better in school and are more likely to ­participate in physical activities.

Athletes often refer to breakfast as their ”pre-training meal“ or ”pre-competition meal.“ So tell Mom or Dad what you would like for your ”pre-training“ breakfast so he or she can have the pantry stocked with healthful food choices.

Registered dietitian Monique Ryan, author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, said breakfast should be rich in carbohydrates, such as whole grains and fruits. Carbohydrates raise your blood sugar, which fuels your muscles and brain, and prepares you for school work.

Begin your day by eating a small amount of lean protein, which is important for building and repairing muscles; healthy fats (such as the ­monounsaturated kinds in peanut butter and the omega-3s in salmon) can help your body stay fueled until lunchtime.

A typical breakfast for American athletes in Beijing includes oatmeal, whole-wheat pancakes with grilled peaches, honey-glazed country ham and sweet potato hash browns.

Swimmer Erik Vendt told a ­reporter for Eating Well magazine that ­breakfast was his favorite meal of the day.

”I love cooking up a 4-egg omelet with Cheddar, peppers, onions and tomatoes,“ he said.

Going for the gold means you have to have a strong healthy body, and if you dream of being a star athlete, you must jump start each day with a ­nutritious breakfast.