Know how important nutrition is to your sports performance, but not really sure where to start? We’ve put together 5 key tips to make sure all youth athletes know exactly how they can fuel their body right and nail their performance in training and competitions to get them to the top of the podium.
1. Fuel up
Think of your body like a car. The food put into your body is just like the petrol that goes in the car to power the engine. Fill the tank to the top and the car will travel much further and faster. The body is exactly the same. If you regularly keep your tank filled up then you’ll last much longer in sessions before the fatigue hits and you’ll be able to perform much better too.
2. Carbs are King
Carbohydrates are the fuel that the body prefers to use for high intensity sport. The carbohydrates you eat are stored in the body as glycogen or circulate around the blood as glucose. Keeps these levels high and you’ll keep going for longer. If they run out you’ll struggle to make it to the end of a session, or when it comes to it, you’ll not have the energy for that sprint finish to get you across the line in time.
3. Recover Faster
Nutrition isn’t just about preparing for a session and it certainly doesn’t stop at the end of a race or the full-time whistle. Chances are you’ll have another training session tomorrow or a big game at the weekend. Keep your nutrition on point at all times to help the body recover quicker and make sur you’re ready to go again.
Eating a meal high in carbohydrates and protein will help to replenish those glycogen stores that have emptied during the session and to repair and rebuild muscle that’s been hard at work.
Try and include lots of fruit and veg and good sources of omega-3 fats like oily fish as these are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories which help with recovery and reduce muscle soreness.
4. Stay Hydrated
When it comes to nutrition, most athletes focus just on the food they eat, and they often forget about how important staying hydrated is. Even small amounts of dehydration can affect sports performance, from increasing fatigue and effort to reducing strength, accuracy and concentration. Youth athletes should aim to drink around 2-3 litres of water each day. Go into sessions fully hydrated by sipping around 300-500ml beforehand and then ensuring plenty of fluids are consumed during and after as well.
5. Be Prepared
Don’t leave anything to chance and waste the hours spent in training sessions by ignoring the need to fuel the body right. Make snacks, lunchboxes and water bottles an essential part of the kit bag so that no matter where athletes are, they know exactly what they’re eating and when.
Follow these 5 simple steps and we’ll guarantee you’ll see improvements in your performance in sport as well as generally feeling much healthier too!
Author: Emmy Campbell, BSc., MSc, SENr., Registered Nutritionist @ Youth Sport Nutrition