Viewpoints, Health & Safety

Health Tip: Game Day Nutrition

September 24, 2019

By Nick Parkinson, M.Ed., ATC, AT
Henry Ford Health System

Parents, you know how important it is for your student athlete to be well-rested, well-fueled and well-hydrated. Just like a car needs gas, their bodies needs food. 

So, whether they’re doing an intense workout during practice or competing in a strenuous game, it’s crucial for them to be properly hydrated and nourished, both before and after, so they can perform their best and recover properly.

Pre-Training Nutrition

The most important part of pre-training nutrition is making sure your child’s food choices give them the healthy energy boost they need for the type of physical activity they’re engaged in, and not a just quick sugar rush.

Carbohydrates may have a bad reputation, but they’re actually the body’s main source of energy. Before a workout, a healthy snack is a great idea. The trick is to eat far enough in advance to be able to digest before being active.

To ensure proper digestion while fueling up, follow these tips:

If there’s less than two hours until go time, try a quick snack like a banana, apple, or a small bowl of Greek yogurt with granola and fruit.

Have a little time to spare? You could try a brown rice bowl with sautéed vegetables or a cup of oatmeal topped with fruit.

Either way, carbs will fuel the body so your child can perform at his or her peak.

Post-Training Nutrition

After an intense workout or game, your child’s body is depleted of its nutrients. It needs to be recharged, which means eating carbs, fats and proteins. The word “fats” tends to scare people, but they’re actually a crucial component in building muscle and recovering.

After an event where your athlete worked out hard, encourage your child to eat something that includes multiples food groups. Try something simple like avocado or peanut butter toast, hummus with veggies and whole-wheat pita, or even a smoothie.

Hydration No Matter What

Regardless of the intensity of the workout, the most important thing is to keep your kid hydrated before, during and after.

It is recommended to top off water intake approximately two hours before any physical activity. Then, athletes should continue hydrating throughout. And while there are many sports drinks to choose from, the healthiest option is water. If you want to add some fun (and natural) flavors to them, try infusing with fruits and/or veggies.

Want to learn more? Henry Ford Health System sports medicine experts are treating the whole athlete, in a whole new way. From nutrition to neurology, and from injury prevention to treatment of sports-related conditions, they can give your athlete a unique game plan.

Visit or call (313) 972-4216 for an appointment within 24 business hours.