Student-Athlete Nutrition

Students require sufficient nutrition in order to have energy for growth, daily studies and other activities.  Boys aged 11 to 18 need about 2,500 calories each day and girls need 2,200 calories daily. Teenagers should also consume additional protein, calcium, iron, dietary fibre, and other multi-vitamins.  Athletes require even more.  They should follow good nutrition habits in preparation for peak performance, repair tissue that has been broken down from competition, reduce active recovery time, and lower the chance of injuries. An extra-curricular athlete needs an additional five to six hundred calories.

Poor nutrition – especially before a training session, practice or competition – leads to diminished physical and mental performance and an increased risk of injury.  Over the long-term, this contributes to mood changes, fatigue and obesity. Dieticians do not feel that high school and collegiate athletes possess the sophistication to alter their diets without guidance.  Student-athletes can improve their performance is to consume a healthy snack before late afternoon exercise.

Encourage athletes to consume enough protein and carbohydrates before and after exercise to meet their energy and recovery needs. Adequate fluid intake is also important.  For peak physical and mental performance, athletes should maintain high levels of blood glucose.  Whenever blood glucose levels fall, the intensity of exercise will drop, in addition to mental fatigue and irritability.

Feeding the Mind

  • The brain’s energy requirements are met by aerobic glucose degradation.
  • At rest, the brain consumes twenty percent of the body’s energy.
    • Without replacement, the brain would be depleted in ten minutes.
  • Food insufficiently is a serious impediment to learning ability.

Feeding the Body

  • Dieticians do not feel that high school athletes possess the sophistication to alter their diets without the intervention of coaches or experts.
  • Left to their own devices, teenagers will fall into bad eating habits and need mentors and role models.
    • Ignoring sport participation, these habits lower their energy level and degree of focus in the classroom.
  • Athletes should not skip meals:
    • Performance of moderate to high-intensity exercise for forty-five minutes is enhanced by consuming moderately high carbohydrate, low fat, and low protein meal three hours before
  • Intake should be balanced between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats:
    • Each food group provides different amount of energy but it is also important to consider the body’s construction and replace what has been lost during exercise.


  • Daily breakfast eaters eat healthier and are more physically active.
  • Twelve to twenty-four percent of youth regularly skip breakfast.
  • Skipping breakfast reduces memory and decision-making tasks.
    • School breakfast programs appear to improve cognitive functioning.


  • Athletes should consume close to sixty grams of protein daily.
  • If athletes do not consume enough protein fuel, they will burn lean muscle mass and not make the athletic progress that they expect.
  • It is important to consume quality proteins which will provide enough energy.


  • Calcium develops strong and dense bones.
  • Adolescent athletes require fifteen hundred mg of calcium, although they only consume just over a thousand mg.


  • As teenagers grow muscle mass, iron helps deliver oxygen for energy.
  • Iron-deficiency leads to anaemia, reduced Anaerobic performance, fatigue, confusion, and weakness.
  • Anaemic students also perform poorly academically.
  • Iron deficiency can take up to six months to correct.

Dietary Fibre

  • Since 1965, youth have received less energy from fibre and more from fat because they do not consume enough whole grains, pasta, and rice.
  • Teens benefit less from the anti-oxidant effects of dietary fibre.


  • The consumption of multi-vitamins and other supplements can help prevent vitamin imbalances caused by the frequency and duration of training sessions.
  • Most high school athletes do not meet their recommended intake of Vitamins, B, C, and E, which have anti-oxidant properties.

List of Resources