Eating Like a Champ: 4 Nutrition Tips for Young Athletes

A young athlete sitting in the grass while eating an apple.

While eating healthy is important for everyone, it is absolutely essential for young athletes! Playing sports requires athletes to be at their best, and that means giving your body the fuel it needs to succeed. To help you prepare for your next tournament at Rocky Top Sports World, our team has put together four nutrition tips for young athletes.

1. Be Sure You’re Getting Enough Calories

Playing sports can require a lot of energy, especially if you’re regularly competing in tournaments or all-day events. To account for these high energy demands, some young athletes may need between 500 and 1,500 more daily calories than inactive peers in their age group. One great way to get more calories in your diet is to eat three or four snacks in between meals throughout the day.

Of course, when we’re talking about snacks we don’t mean candy bars or potato chips! Instead, try to eat foods that are healthy and high-energy. Some of our favorite nutritious snacks include:

  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Trail mix
  • Applesauce
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Yogurt and granola
  • Half a sandwich

2. Don’t Forget to Stay HydratedA teenage boy drinking a bottle of water.

Dehydration can lead to serious heat related illnesses, and even in its most mild form, it can hamper an athlete’s performance. Fortunately, avoiding dehydration isn’t hard! We recommend drinking fluids every 15 – 20 minutes during a game or practice. Sports drinks are great for athletic activity lasting more than 60 minutes, while water is fine for activity that lasts less than an hour. Rocky Top Sports World provides Gatorade at all of our non-collegiate events, so staying hydrated is easy when you play at our sports campus.

(See Also: Beating the Heat at Rocky Top Sports World)

3. Have a Great Meal on Game Day

Eating right on game day can be crucial for young athletes. If you will be dining three or more hours before the competition, we suggest eating a meal that is high in carbs but low in fat. Try to avoid high fiber foods, as these can lead to an upset stomach. If you’re going to eat within a three hour window of the game, go for a light snack that is rich in carbohydrates, such as crackers, bread, or fruit. It is also important to drink plenty of water before your game.

4. Remember to Eat After Exercise

While eating well before a game is important, young athletes will also want to pay close attention to what they’re eating after a game. Within a half hour of intense exercise, nutritionists recommend eating carbs. It is also suggested that athletes eat more carbohydrates two hours later. In the 24 hours after playing a sport, your body rebuilds muscle tissue and renews its energy stores, so eating healthy foods during this time is very beneficial.

A healthy meal of cereal and fruit.When you play at Rocky Top Sports World, eating healthy is a breeze! Our onsite grill offers nutritious meals that can be ordered in advance for individual athletes or entire teams. To see our menu, check out Rocky Top Sports World’s Healthy Choice Athlete Meal Plans.