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Nutrition for the Student Athletes

Nutrition for the Student Athletes

Fueling for Success


Being part of a sports team can be a rewarding experience, but it also requires a lot of hard work and dedication – both on and off the field.  As would be expected, a key factor in athletic success is the right nutrition. Between rigorous training sessions, classes and homework, student athletes need the right fuel (and enough of it!!)  to keep their body running like a well-oiled machine.  Here are a few tips to fuel for optimal performance. 


START OFF RIGHT:  Every student athlete should start their day with a nutritious breakfast. A good breakfast sets the tone for the day and will help keep their energy levels up during activities like practice, strength training and bio lab. Most importantly it ensures they are on track to meet their overall daily calorie needs which can often be a struggle. Make sure to choose nutrient-rich foods such as whole-grain toast, eggs, and fresh fruit. Avoid sugary cereals and pastries, as these are packed with empty calories and may leave you feeling sluggish.


PLAN AHEAD:  Student athletes are often on the go, and they need to have portable performance foods in their backpack to fuel them every two to three hours between meals and around training. Prepare by packing healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts, or granola bars in your backpack. It is important to have a balanced mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to keep energy levels up throughout the day.


Keep Energy Up During Training:  Longer training sessions require more fuel. If training sessions will be longer than an hour, plan a small carbohydrate-rich snack or beverage immediately before and during the activity. A sports drink or banana with water during training or intense physical activity provides fuel and replaces lost fluid and electrolytes. Good snack options include granola, bananas, dried fruit, and bread with jam. Pro Tip: Drink water when consuming carbohydrates during practice to avoid stomach problems.


Replenish after Practice for Recovery: After a training session or game, athletes need to replenish lost nutrients so plan a meal within one hour after training. A meal of carbohydrate-rich foods, protein, and ample fluids will help meet recovery needs. A recovery snack, eaten within 30 minutes, is critical if a meal within one hour after training isn’t realistic. This is especially important on days with multiple training, competition, or tournament sessions. Good recovery nutrition options include low-fat chocolate milk, trail mix, cereal and milk, yogurt parfaits, and fruit smoothies because they have a combination of both protein and carbohydrate to refuel muscles. Because students do not always have access to food immediately after practice, packing recovery snacks in gym bag will make quickly refueling an easy task.


Know What Foods Sit Well with Your Body:  It is important for student athletes to know what foods sit well with their body. They should avoid trying new foods during days that they have important training sessions or competitions. Experiment with new foods during the off-season or during less important training sessions. This will help prevent any digestive issues or discomfort during important events.


Published August 1, 2023

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