There’s no doubt that youth athletes are some of the most dedicated athletes there are. You train and work like professional athlete’s day in and day out, balancing your sports life around schoolwork too. But to really take your sport to the next level; you also need to eat like an athlete day in and day out too. So how do you do that?
Each athlete is different and what you eat will need to match your sport, training schedule and lifestyle and this means that it will change each day too. The key to getting the most of out of your nutrition is to match what you eat to your energy needs of your day to maximise your performance, training adaptations and health.
To make this simple, at YSN we split each day into one of three main focuses; Fuel & Refuel, Grow & Repair or Fight & Protect.
The harder you are training, the more you will need to fuel and refuel and the less you are training, the more you can focus on recovery, growth, health and protection. What goes on your plate, when and how much needs to change accordingly and this is known as ‘periodised nutrition’.
But don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it might sound. We’ll explain each focus in more detail and give you an example meal plan to download for each of the three days to help you to use your nutrition to maximise your training performance.
Fuel & Refuel
On days where you have a hard or intense training, double sessions or in the build-up to big games or events, your focus needs to be on fuelling and refuelling. The aim of these meals is to make sure you have enough energy to get the most out of your sessions, so the focus should be on high carbohydrates.
Aim for 3 portions of carbs, 1 portion of protein and 1 portion of fruit and veg in each meal.
Grow & Repair
For regular, less intense training sessions, energy demands won’t be quite as high so we can switch our focus to growth and repair to help our bodies recover optimally from previous training, games or events.
Fuelling and refuelling will still be import, so aim for 2 portions of carbs in each meal. Up the protein and fruit and veg intake 2 portions of each in meals to speed up muscle recovery and repair and to reduce soreness and inflammation too.
Fight & Protect
We like to think of days off as recovery days. This is when your body is growing, repairing and adapting to the hard sessions from the previous days, so is a key time to focus on health. Up the fruit and veg intake on these days to give your body all of the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy.
Aim for 3 portions of fruit and veg in each meal, alongside 2 portions of protein for muscle repair and 1 portion of carbs. Swapping out one of your portions of protein for oily fish is a great way to fight against muscle soreness and speed up the recovery process.
Download the the meal plan and give it a go to periodise your own nutrition plan according to your training schedule and demands.