Athletes: Nourish Your Body


A display of Gatorade Protein Bars and Energy Chews. These snacks coincide with Mckenzie Truit’s, State High Athletic Trainer, tips for student-athletes. “ Protein is important and vital to optimize performance,” Truit said.

Johannah Lee, Staff Writer

One of the most important things to an athlete is the food they put into their body. Athletes must ensure they give their body the proper fuel it requires to make it through a practice and game/match.  They also have to ensure that they give their body the calories burned in a workout, in order to gain and maintain muscle. 

The proper diet provides the necessary fuel that gives athletes energy, the ability to build muscle, and what is needed for a full recovery after a workout.

According to Lisa Zehentner, a nurse at State High, a balanced diet is the most important thing for an athlete. An unbalanced diet can provide to high-stress levels, and fatigue. Nutrition is what provides the body with energy to get through the day. 

So what should a student-athlete eat before their game or practice? Mckenzie Truit, an athletic trainer at State High provided some easy examples. “[A] small pack of tuna, granola bars, trail mix, veggies, dried fruit or fresh fruit/peanut butter, rice cakes, protein bar, beef jerky,” Truit said. She also mentioned that protein is crucial to enhance performance. Student-athletes should look for quick, protein-packed snacks for pre-game/practice. 

With that in mind, the question now becomes, when to eat? Truit explained the details of a perfect nutritional timeline. “[A] full meal should be eaten about 3 hours before a game/practice, but you can have a “power snack” up to an hour before competing.”

What does this food do for you during your game? The body breaks down the food that we eat into useable energy. The body uses acids and enzymes in the stomach to break down the food. Specifically, when digesting carbohydrates, the body breaks the food down into a sugar called glucose. Glucose is then absorbed into the small intestines and released into the bloodstream. This is what provides us with the energy that we need to perform during sports and throughout the day.

Athletes want protein before games or practices, what about after? Truit said to eat more protein, and that they should look for high carb meals. “Sandwiches with a protein, Mexican food such as beans or avocados, grilled chicken + veggies, [and] even pasta,” Truit said. Athletes should also refuel by drinking a lot of fluids. Whether that is water, juice, or some other recovery drink, the body needs fluids that have been sweat out during exercise. 

Food is one of the most important and crucial elements of sports. Without providing the body with the proper food, fuel, and nutrition, an athlete cannot perform at their peak. Supplying the body the fuel it requires to perform takes one more thing off the players mind. Therefore, the athletes are able to focus on their sport.