Sports Nutrition

Fearless Athletes Need Well-Fueled Bodies

Sports nutrition planBefore a young athlete steps onto the field, court or mat, he needs to make sure his body is ready for competition. The type of food a young athlete eats can affect how well and how long he can compete. Foods high in fat and drinks high in sugar can slow any young athlete down. But a proper nutrition plan can make sure he has enough energy to keep playing until the final buzzer.

Creating a Nutrition Plan

There are a lot of things to consider when creating a nutrition plan for a young athlete. Each athlete is different and their needs vary depending on sport, size, age and gender. But there are a few parts of a healthy diet that every athlete needs. They include:

The proteins in the food we eat are broken down into amino acids. The body produces 11 of the 20 essential amino acids, so the other nine must be consumed through food. These amino acids are used to repair and build the muscles that are broken down during exercise. 

Good sources of protein include:               
Chicken breast
Nuts or seeds

An athlete’s body uses carbohydrates to make glucose, which gives him the energy to keep playing. Glucose can be used immediately or stored.

Good sources of carbohydrates include:

Healthy fats, like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, help store energy in the body. They also help vitamins move through the bloodstream. 

Good sources of healthy fats include:
Vegetable oils


Hydration is also an important part of any young athlete’s diet. He should be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids—and the right fluids—throughout the day. It is especially important to drink fluids (water or sports drinks like Powerade or Gatorade) before, during and after a game or practice.


    Sports drinksIf a young athlete chooses to hydrate using a sports drink, he should not dilute it. This would cause it to have the wrong concentration of electrolytes.

    An easy guide for how much fluid a young athlete should consume is to divide his weight in half. That is how many ounces of fluid he should drink during the day. For example, if a young athlete weights 120 pounds, he should drink 60 ounces of fluid.

    Knowing his sweat rate can help an athlete know how much fluid he needs to drink to replace what he lost during an event. Calculate sweat rate with a simple formula.



Food is the best and most reliable supplement for a young athlete, especially whole foods. But many athletes competing at the elite levels may feel the need to take additional supplements, like vitamins and powders, to speed up recovery and build muscle. Consult a doctor or registered dietitian who works with athletes before adding any supplement to your diet. An athlete always needs to know what he is putting into his body and how it is going to affect him.

Weight Management

For many sports, weight management is a big concern, especially in wrestling, cheerleading and football. But losing too much weight can leave a young athlete short on energy and durability. Putting on too much weight can slow an athlete down and harm their long-term health. Our doctors or sports dietician can discuss with a young athlete if it is necessary to lose or gain weight for their sport. They will then help the athlete lose weight in a healthy way.

Sport-Specific Information


Contact Us

Call the Children's Sports Medicine Program at 404-785-6880 for more information.