The Importance of Proper Nutrition and Hydration for Young Athletes


Young athletes train for hours most of the week in their sport. To increase their skills, proper nutrition and hydration are an important part of their development. Having well-balanced meals before practice or a competition is important to help athletes do their best. It’s easy to forget because of the daily stress of school and that’s why it’s important to have great organizational skills and an established daily routine to pack snacks and a healthy lunch. According to Nationwide Children’s hospital, a healthy diet helps with injury prevention, strengthens the immune system, decreases muscle tiredness and soreness, muscle healing, increased energy levels and attention span. Before a practice or competition, it’s important to have a well-balanced meal 3-4 hours before and a snack 30-60 minutes before to give yourself an extra energy boost. 


Some examples of healthy meals include: 

  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs with feta and spinach, whole grain toast with avocado 
  • Lunch: brown rice or quinoa with healthy proteins (chicken or salmon), avocado, sweet potato and salad 
  • Dinner: whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce, chicken and vegetables 


Some examples of healthy snacks include: 

  • Dried fruit and granola bar 
  • Fruit (apples, bananas, strawberries) with peanut butter 
  • Yogurt with granola 
  • Turkey sandwich with avocado and tomato on whole grain bread 


All athletes are always told to stretch after, but what some athletes forget is that you should refuel and hydrate after your workout/practice/competition. Athletes should have a snack 15 minutes to an hour after and a meal 1-2 hours after. This is important because athletes replace lost nutrients. It’s also important to hydrate including drinking 64-80 ounces of water, 4-6 ounces of fresh juice with no added sugars and 2-3 glasses of milk per day.