We are super excited to bring Rachel Pfister who is a licensed dietitian and has spent 8+ years working at the top levels of college athletics. She was nice enough to share these 3 Best Nutritional Habits for Youth Athletes!
Check out our podcast episode with Rachel on this topic below!
Top 3 Best Daily Nutritional Habits Podcast!
A good diet can take an athlete to the next level of performance. A bad diet can lead to lack of energy, poor recovery, and eventually injury.
When athletes are young their bodies are constantly developing and being put under great stress in the sports they play. Learning how to refuel properly can be the key to not only high performance but sustained high performance.
Maintaining a great diet can seem like a big task. Meal prepping, counting calories. This can be hard for a youth athlete to prioritize on a busy day to day schedule. This is why we have come up with the Top 3 Daily Nutritional Habits for Youth Athletes.
Water is important for all cells, tissues, and organs in the body to work properly. Proper hydration plays such an important role like regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, preventing infection, delivering nutrients to cells, improving muscle function and circulation. For athlete’s, poor hydration habits are often noticed in the form of cramping, headaches, dry mouth, fatigue, and exhaustion, to name a few. Starting the day off with a glass of water in the morning is a small habit to pick up that can make the world of a difference in the classroom and on the court. When it comes to performance and everyday life, if you aren’t hydrated properly your body won’t be functioning at its very best and over time the wear and tear on your body can lead to injury and burnout. An athlete’s hydration needs will vary but a great place to start would be consuming 75% of your weight in fluid oz each day. Example: 135# athlete x.75= 101oz of fluid each day.
The human body is a complicated machine, to perform at its best day after day, consuming a wide variety of foods is necessary. At each meal try to include 3 components: Protein, Carbohydrates and Color. This will not only provide those vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body craves throughout the day, but also provide the energy and support your body needs to excel. The body needs all 3 components for growth and development, but more specifically as it relates to performance, protein supports muscle growth, carbohydrates provide the energy for your brain and body, and the color component provides antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber to help fine tune your body. Some high-quality protein sources are chicken, pork, steak, fish, eggs, low fat dairy products and soy. Carbohydrates are most abundant in potatoes, pasta, rice, breads, crackers, and oats. Color is found in fruit and vegetables like spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower, lettuce, bananas, apples, oranges and berries- to name a few. (Note: fruit is considered a carbohydrate but from experience; adolescence, and young athletes tend to have a limited acceptance and sometimes access to vegetables; therefore, I encourage them to have fruit if vegetables are not available or palatable at the time).
Power snacks are essential for busy athletes. Having a power snack between meals, before and after practice provides the body with some extra “juice” or fuel to keep going, repair and prepare for the next workout. This fuel is intended to keep you focused in class, quick on the court, rebuild muscles and stabilize your mood (prevent you from getting hangry). A power snack is made up of 2 food groups. The 5 main food groups according to the United States Department of Agriculture are: fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, protein, and dairy. Here are some examples of solid power snacks to keep on hand:
- Beef jerky + crackers (Protein + Carbohydrate)
- Apple+ trail mix (Fruit + Protein)
- String cheese + goldfish (Dairy +Carbohydrates)
- Carrots & ranch + applesauce (Vegetable + Carbohydrate)
- Granola bar + hardboiled egg (Carbohydrate +Protein)
If you are able to truly focus on and implement these 3 Daily Nutritional Habits you can not only take your athletic performance to the next level but also help prevent possible injuries.
You must take the time to put in work on the court to get better, you must push your body in the weight room to get stronger. However, if you do no refuel properly you are wasting your time or even worse, leaving your body with a higher risk for injury.
Put the proper fuel in your body take your performance to the next level.