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Nutrition for Athletes: Overview

**Our Nutrition for Athletes series answers athletes’ questions about nutrition with a deep dive into micro- and macro-nutrients, timing meals for workouts, nutrition in the season vs offseason, and meal prepping.

Student-athletes are provided fitness training programs, and they go through practices and drills to work on plays and fine-tune their technical abilities. But, when it comes to nutrition, they are given only the basics on how to eat properly. 

But what does it really mean to fuel your body for performance? Should you eat the same way in your off season versus in season? What about eating for your overall health vs to meet performance goals?

Related: Fueling Your Body for Performance

This nutrition series will answer those questions, and more. We will dive into the different topics of nutrition, with focus on the different macro- and micronutrients, choosing and timing meals for performance, eating in your offseason, meal prepping & planning, and so much more. 

To begin, let’s focus on nutrition at its most basic level. 

Nutrition is the intake of food necessary for the growth, metabolism, and repair of the body. Likewise, getting proper nutrients lessens a person’s risk of developing health conditions in the future. These nutrients come from macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, & alcohol), micronutrients (vitamins, minerals & fiber), and even from water. Nutrients can be found in almost everything you eat, but the quality and amounts vary from source to source. 

Related: Hockey Nutrition for Student-Athletes

It is important to consider the source when dealing with dietary restrictions such as allergies, intolerances, and dietary choices like vegetarianism and veganism. When a student-athlete is not getting the ideal amount of nutrients, they can ultimately increase their risk of injury, fatigue, reduced recovery, and even a diminished mental capacity. The ideal amount varies from person to person based on their genetic & health history and how their body handles the different sources of nutrition. 

Related: Northwestern University Director of Performance Nutrition Talks Performance Changes & Body Dissatisfaction

The timing and amounts of these nutrients can heavily affect one’s performance on the field and even off. The dietary intake of the student-athlete is guaranteed to change throughout the year and even throughout the season. As the student-athlete’s schedule ramps up and they find themselves involved in more training and practice sessions, as well as an intense game schedule, the amount of food and nutrients needed will often increase. The opposite can be said during the off season when the goal alters to increasing strength, body composition, technical abilities, and the athlete aims to get more rest & recovery. 

Related: 2 Satisfying Snacks for Athletes on the Go

Nutrition is essential to every student-athlete’s life as it is not about just eating food but understanding how it aids in their abilities on & off the field, their recovery process, and their mental acuity. It is also extremely important to remember that everybody is unique and what each individual needs is different!

Coming Next Wednesday: Carbohydrates
The different types and sources, why they are good for you, and knowing how much you need and how to time them for games and practices.


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