Listen to the Latest Podcast

How to Energize Your Young Athlete

young athlete

Got a young athlete in the house?

I do.


A swimmer and a volleyball player. The swimmer is a club team participant, swimming 2 hours each night, 5-6 nights each week.

My volleyball player is at the high school level, which means most nights during the week while in season she is practicing for 2 hours, also.

My two athletes are still growing, so I give special consideration to their nutrition needs for growth, as well as the calorie torch related to their sport.

5 Ways to Ensure Your Young Athlete is Energized

It’s important to make sure your young athlete is getting the good stuff, and enough of it. Try these tips:

Stock your kitchen with good quality nutrition

Choose whole foods in their natural state, such as low fat dairy products, lean meats and other protein sources, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats. These are the foods that should be a part of every healthy, growing child’s diet.

Start the day right with breakfast!

Make sure your child gets three nutritious meals and no skipping!

A meal should include at least 3-4 of these foods: a protein source, dairy, fruit, vegetable, healthy fats and/or a whole grain food source.

Aim for 2 snacks each day that include a protein source

Meats, beans and bean dips, nuts and nut butters, cheeses, yogurt, milk or milk substitutes, and protein-rich whole grains such as quinoa are great sources of protein for the young athlete.

Unsweetened cereal and milk; yogurt, fresh fruit and nuts; whole-wheat toast and peanut butter are all examples of a healthy protein-rich snack for your school-age athlete.
Click to Get New Snack Ideas for Your Athlete!

Timing is everything

Kids perform best in all aspects of life when they eat regularly. Try to provide a meal or snack every 3-4 hours, and avoid sending your athlete to practice on an empty stomach.

No need to worry about counting calories or grams of protein

Let your athlete’s appetite lead the way. Take care not to fall into the trap of running through the drive-thru, hitting the convenience mart or snacking on too much processed foods. If so, your athlete may overshoot the balance of energy in: energy out.

With a little bit of planning, it’s easy to assure your young athlete gets enough nutrition to cover all his needs. The benefits of this are worth it–keeping your young athlete healthy, growing and energized for performing on the court or in the pool.

How do you make sure your athlete is getting enough nutrition? 


Do you like what you see on The Nourished Child? If so, join me on my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, and tune in to The Nourished Child podcast!

Check out my new sports nutrition program Eat Like a Champion!

Eat Like a Champion is a sports nutrition program for young athletes and their parents to learn how to fuel the growing body for a competitive edge.

I was a food plater. Yes, a plater of food for my kids. I've changed my ways.

Last Post

I Was a Food Plater. I Reformed my Ways.

Next Post

Introducing The Fearless Feeding Movement (and Giveaway)

Things You Might Also Like...

  1. Would love ideas on healthy nutritious/protein filled snacks for young athletes…that are egg/dairy(no milk, no cheese, limited yoghurt ie 50g/day max),nut/soy/see FREE…. Challenged up here in Canada to find ways to keep them filled and not hungry and full of energy.. without cooking a meat meal 5x a day!!

    1. SUsan
      Beans are a protein-rich, fiber-full, filling option. you can make dips like hummus or roast them, or simply serve them with rice for more of a small meal snack. Edamame are good too! You’ll appreciate my upcoming book: Eat Like a Champion: Performance Nutrition for Your Young Athlete–it will be published next spring/early summer! I do write about the food allergic athlete!

  2. Any other good resources for nutrition for swimmers. My child is 9 and practices 4 times a week for at least 1.5 each time. I am beginning to see how nutrition is an important factor and want to make sure I am doing this right to build lifetime habits for him. Thanks for any help.