Fuel to Win! 5 Essential Nutrition Tips for Young Athletes

Fuel to Win! 5 Essential Nutrition Tips for Young Athletes

March is National Nutrition Month.  Maria-Paula Carrillo is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and the owner of LifeCycle Nutrition. Maria-Paula Carillo believes in keeping good nutrition practical and simple.  Keep reading about her nutrition advice for the young athlete.

Sports are a huge part of our community.  From pee-wee teams to our amazing high school teams-it takes time and sacrifice to provide the best experience for our young athletes. One area that often gets placed lower on the priority scale is nutrition.  Whether your child is participating in recreational or competitive sports, nutrition plays an essential role in their performance and most importantly on their growth.  The following tips will help you talk to your young athlete about the importance of nutrition and hydration.

  1. Never skip breakfast. Practices usually start very early in the morning. Sleep is essential but fueling is too.  If your athlete does not feel hungry for a complete breakfast in the morning, start with something small.  A banana and a cup of milk or ½ a bagel with peanut butter will often do the trick.
  2. Recovery after playing includes nutrition. Whether it is meal time or not, recovery nutrition is essential to help repair muscle damage and support muscle growth. Nutrition post workout means refueling and getting the body ready for the next practice or competition, which might be only hours away.  Recovery requires all macronutrients – protein, carbohydrate, and fat.  If a meal will follow a few hours after the workout, then focus on hydration recovery after the workout with a kick of protein and carbs such as a cup of chocolate milk.  If meal time is not close, then something a little heartier such as a peanut butter sandwich, a banana, crackers and cheese, or yogurt and berries are great options.  
  3. Drink, drink, drink! Remind your young athletes about the importance of proper hydration for optimal performance. The slightest level of dehydration can cause about a 30-50% decrease in performance.  A dehydrated opponent, means higher chances of winning-don’t be that player!  Proper hydration includes pre-workout (2-3 hours prior), during (every 20-30 minutes) and post-workout.  If activity is longer than 60 minutes or your young athlete is a heavy sweater, a sports drink (electrolyte solution with carbohydrates) might be needed.  
  4. Snack wisely. With life busy as it is, snacks do matter. Snacks not only allow our bodies to obtain nutrition throughout the day, but help us maintain the energy levels between meal times.  The best combination for a snack is a duo of carbohydrate (vegetables, fruits or grains) and protein (dairy, meats, nuts, beans).  Think apples and peanut butter, yogurt and berries, crackers and cheese, cereal and milk, carrots and hummus, the possibilities are endless!  For many, a pre-workout snack is the perfect energy-boost to get the best out of practice.
  5. Plan your meals. This means, knowing what your day or week looks like so you are ready and prepared. The key is to know if you need to have something thawed, something cooked in advance, something packed and ready to go, or even knowing what restaurant you will stop at to grab a meal.  Planning ahead of time, ensures that you do not skip the meal and increases the chances of picking a restaurant when you are not at the “hangry” state of the day.


LifeCycle Nutrition is always ready to work with your young athlete and all members of your family.  Please contact them for more information.

If you would like more information about gastrointestinal (GI) digestive disorders and nutrition in children, please contact Dr. Mona Dave’s Frisco Office or Request Appointment Here.