Proper nutrition in sports is absolutely essential to the modern-day athlete. Regardless of if the athlete is professional, collegiate, high school, or younger, they need to be fueling their bodies properly. Without proper nutrition, the athlete will struggle to perform at their best and most effectively in their sport.

The way to think about this aspect of an athlete’s game is to think of it as putting gas in your car. If you’re putting lower octane fuel in your car, it may not run as effectively as it would with a higher octane fuel. It is the same with your body. Athletes need to realize that they cannot put whatever they want in their body, like junk food for instance, and expect themselves to perform as they desire. Athletes need to be made aware of how types of food are distinguished. These groupings are carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

Carbs consist of energy-giving foods that allow athletes to carry on throughout their competitions/games. Carbs can be divided into sub groups called simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbs consist of foods that are high in sugar and that the body will use more quickly. They are able to be digested quickly and are used for quick energy. Complex carbs are just the opposite, and take longer to digest. These the body uses over longer periods of time for sustained energy. Fats consist of foods that take longer to digest than carbs. (Please reference another article called “Misconceptions about Fat” on this blog for more information on fat.) They are important to include in an athlete’s diet, as they can help with brain function, joint lubrication, and much more. Protein is another grouping that athlete’s need to function well and properly, as well as to build and maintain muscle. It takes the longest to digest of these 3 groups mentioned and should be consumed especially right after workouts, practices, and competitions.

This was just a brief overview of proper nutrition, but it is important to know these facts as an athlete as well as a trainer or coach.

Taylor Rowden is a Strength Coach at Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Lake Forest, California. Taylor graduated from the Master’s University with a degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis on sports injury and exercise science. She was also a member of the Women’s Soccer Team.