healthy lunch chicken and greens

How Good Nutrition Correlates to Strong Athletic Performance

Youth sports offer a variety of benefits beyond physical activity, including teamwork, discipline, and personal development. However, one aspect is often underestimated when considering its impact on youth athletic performance – nutrition. Proper nutrition plays a large role in supporting growth, development, and overall well-being, making it an important piece of success for young athletes. Here are a few reasons why nutrition is important for athletic performance and a few key nutrients athletes should focus on. 

The Power of Proper Fueling

Young athletes are not only dealing with the day-to-day task of improving at their sport, but they are also adjusting to their growing bodies. With this, comes changes in activity levels and energy requirements. Proper nutrition ensures that these energy levels are met, allowing athletes to perform at their best in training and competition. 

When it comes to nutrients, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are the macronutrients that provide energy to athletes. A well-balanced diet that includes an appropriate mix of all of these is important for energy and endurance. 


While Macronutrients are usually top of mind when considering nutrition, micronutrients are an important part of growth and development for young athletes. Vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin D, iron, and zinc are important for bone health, immunity, and overall well-being. A well-rounded diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins will ensure athletes receive the essential nutrients they need. 

Nutrient Timing

Most athletes consider the type of food they are fueling with, but not all consider the timing of when they are fueling. Eating the right nutrients at the right time can enhance recovery, reduce muscle soreness, and improve overall performance. For example, eating a combination of carbohydrates and protein after a workout helps replenish glycogen and promotes muscle repair. 

Both pre and post-workout nutrition are important. Before a workout, eating enough carbohydrates and protein to provide the body with energy is essential for endurance athletes. Throughout the rest of the day, protein-rich foods like lean meats, dairy, eggs, and plant-based protein sources support the growth of lean muscle mass and are important components of a balanced diet. 


Proper hydration is often overlooked as an important part of athletic performance. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, decreased cognitive function, and an increased risk of injuries. Young athletes must realize the importance of staying hydrated before, during, and after physical activity. Encouraging athletics to get into the habit of carrying a water bottle and emphasizing the role of water in regulating body temperature is critical. While water is the most important, for intense or extended periods of activity, sports drinks can help replenish electrolytes lost through sweating. 

Athletic Performance and Nutrition

Nutrition is a game-changer for young athletes. Whether aiming to improve strength, speed, or endurance, a strategic approach to nutrition can provide the energy needed for athletes to soar past their own barriers and the competition. 

Teachers, coaches, and parents play a huge role in educating athletes about the importance of nutrition. Providing nutritional guidance, offering healthy snacks during and after practice, and supporting good eating habits can contribute to the overall well-being and success of young athletes. If they are still struggling to perform or a deficiency is detected, consulting with a sports nutritionist can help create a personalized meal plan. This can address specific goals and dietary preferences. 

The connection between strong nutrition and athletic performance is truly undeniable. By prioritizing proper nutrition, young athletes not only enhance their current performance but also create the foundation for lifelong habits that will contribute positively to their health.

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