The Right Diet for Youth Athletes

There’s plenty to keep track of when it comes time to bring your child to a game or practice for their youth sports teams. Your pre-game prep list might include packing a spare uniform and a first aid kit, checking to see that your Olympian-in-training has finished their homework, and other tasks that help your child get ready for a few hours of fun and physical activity. In order for your son or daughter to be truly prepared for youth sports, however, you should make sure that they eat a nutritious diet.

Proper nutrition is a great complement to the other healthy habits your child develops during youth sports, and it can also help them play better by giving their growing bodies the vitamins and nutrients they need. Take a look below at some recommendations of what to eat on game day and help turn your youth athlete into a nutrition all-star!


For the most important meal of the day, prepare your child foods that contain sources of protein as well as carbohydrates. Protein will help your youth athlete to build muscle, but carbohydrates are essential element of a game day breakfast as well because they are the body’s main source of energy and will keep your child going from the first quarter to the last. With that in mind, good examples of breakfasts include eggs, oatmeal made with milk, smoothies made from yogurt, milk, and fruit, and more.


Many athletes think that they should skip lunch or just eat a light midday meal before games, but this strategy actually backfires. If your athlete’s game is in the afternoon — which is the case for members of middle school or high school teams who play after class — skipping lunch deprives them of energy and nutrients that they’ll need to play their best. An ideal lunch before a game should include a wide range of food groups such as whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy. And make sure your athlete drinks plenty of water throughout the entire day in order to stay hydrated!


Once your son or daughter has laid it all on the field, they’ll need a filling dinner to help them replenish all of the energy they used during the game. Great choices for post-game dinners are lean meats like chicken breast or salmon, whole grains like whole wheat pasta, and vegetables or green salads.

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