Helping Athletes ‘Fuel Up’ at the Training Table

Coaches can help their athletes succeed by making the connection: breakfast, nutritious foods and proper recovery increase an athlete’s performance. Sometimes coaches focus on the latest strength techniques or trendiest athletic wear. I encourage coaches to turn their attention to what’s on their players’ plates, too.

Players should fuel up at a training table that offers high-quality food for better performance. Coaches can encourage all athletes to take advantage of school breakfast and lunch as all public school lunch meals are patterned after the U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines. It is a simple solution to ensure students get a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods.

As a sports dietitian, I believe milk is the most valuable player at the breakfast, lunch and the recovery table as it provides nine essential nutrients that are important for development and good health. These include calcium, potassium and vitamin D – three of the four nutrients many young people are lacking in their diets.

Getting players to the tray line is step one; make sure they are reaching for wholesome options once they are there, including white or flavored milk.

A training session isn’t over until the nutrients that were lost are replaced. Low-fat chocolate milk is a great-tasting, affordable alternative to expensive protein powders and recovery drinks. It has the right mix of protein and carbs and is scientifically proven to refuel exhausted muscles and help athletes reach their peak potential.

Rebecca Turner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

Rebecca Turner