Nutrition for the Young Athlete

Young competitive athletes need to pay attention to many aspects of their life outside of the water, including what they eat. Nutrition may seem complicated, but developing a few simple eating habits before, during, and after working out can be the difference between a good athlete and a great athlete.

Before the Workout

About 1-4 hours before an intense workout or competition, eat a healthy meal or snack that focuses on quality carbohydrate and fluid intake. Examples of snacks that fit this category include:

  • Peanut Butter and Banana/Apple
  • Greek Yogurt with Berries
  • Oatmeal with Fruit
  • Trail Mix (2 parts dried fruit, 1 part nuts)

During the Workout

Fueling during a workout is only necessary for intense workouts lasting longer than 1 hour. These should be quick-absorbing carbohydrates, providing the body with a quick energy source. Examples of this are:

  • Raisins (or other dried fruit)
  • Banana
  • Energy Chews/Gels

If you are not exercising intensely for this long, just focus on consistent water intake to prevent dehydration.

After the Workout 

Within 30-60 minutes following exercise, a mix of carbohydrates and protein should be consumed, along with water. This will ensure your muscles repair themselves properly so they can become stronger. Try one of these ideas, or come up with your own that consists of the proper nutrients:

  • Smoothie with Protein (e.g nut butter, protein powder, greek yogurt)
  • Low-Fat Chocolate Milk
  • Greek Yogurt with Berries
  • Cheese Stick and Whole Grain Crackers

Carbohydrate loading is another part of major athletic events. Choose higher carbohydrate meals for 3 days prior to the race (think pasta and rice) to store the necessary fuel needed for the extended/intense exercise.

If you are an athlete needing some nutritional guidance, have questions, or simply want to get back on track with healthy eating, check out the current nutrition program offerings at UVAC or contact Grace Stott at [email protected].

By Grace Stott, UNH Masters Student and UVAC Nutrition Intern

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