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Why having a Sports Dietitian can Amp up your Sports Performance as a High-School Athlete

Updated: Feb 5, 2022

An Athletes Life

As a former high-school athlete I know the struggles during and off-season. Struggles to fit in and find yourself as you grow up, struggles to play your best, and struggles of a busy life with school, practice, games, homework, and yes, somehow managing to fit in free-time.

There's no time to focus on when, where and what you'll be eating. You may not even realize you are skipping meals. You forgot a lunch and go with the candy bar and soda from the vending machine. You can't have lunch till the last lunch, and you don't ever think about snacks in the classroom (since, you probably would get in trouble anyway). Or you head to the drive-through after practice for a Wendy's frosty and fries (GUILTY!). I get it! Not to mention, you're also growing, going through mood swings, trying to be who you want to be, finding hobbies you like (in that "free-time") and studying to get good grades.

Being a high-school athlete is a lot to handle, yet, you want to be the best, maybe you want to get a scholarship to college and continue to play, but somedays you're stuck. You find yourself zoning out at practice, not making the shots, not running as fast, forgetting a play, not doing well in school, or not having energy for free-time. This lifestyle get's busy and overwhelming.

How Nutrition affects an Athlete

So as a high-school athlete, do you ever think the foods and beverages you put in your body can actually be affecting all of this?... I didn't, not until I was done playing and when I found my interest in nutrition.

What you are eating day in and day out can affect not only how you perform in your sport, but how you grow and learn. The zoning out, forgetful plays, slow moving body parts, can be affected by what you are feeding your body- or in regards to sports nutrition- how you are fueling your body. As a high-school athlete, you need to fuel for performance AND growth, which can be a challenge when you have no time to even think about lunch or dinner on the regular!

How a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can help Athletes

Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN's) can work with you to understand your bodies needs and wants, during time of sport and growth. An RDN will help you learn to fuel your body with nutritious and fun foods, so your body can grow properly and you can have the mental sharpness you need, not just in the classroom, but for play.

Working with athletes individually is also very important- everyone has different needs and wants, including food allergies, cultural preferences, and taste buds to name a few. Finding foods you enjoy is going to be a big part of what gets experimented with during your sport and even between seasons. If we can determine that a favorite food gives you energy and nutrients for your body to grow well, then that makes fueling for performance that much more fun! Determining your schedule with school, practice, games or tournaments, is the start to the process of working with an RDN.

What will a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist do?

An RDN will go through a diet recall with an athlete, determining typical food and beverage intakes and will use the different needs and wants of the individual athlete to find ways to make sure your body is getting the right nutrients. Finding nutrient gaps such as missing food groups can help prevent or treat nutrient deficiencies (low levels of a nutrient), which may inhibit proper growth, thus, further limiting your athletic performance.

Apart from nutritionists and health coaches, RDN's have an in-depth and higher degree of education including a clinical dietetic internship and registration examination. This allows registered dietitian nutritionists to use medical nutrition therapy that includes review of medical diagnosis, lab results, food allergies, and gastrointestinal diseases or concerns (such as lactose intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome) among many other medical conditions. Using medical nutrition therapy helps with determining goals for the client or patient. This in-depth medical approach to care can provide athletes with the nutrition goals, knowledge and implementation they need not only for a healthy, fueling sports career, but a healthy life.

Registered dietitian nutritionists will work with an athlete on grocery shopping lists and meal planning, so you have a say in what you want to eat (such as those favorite or cultural foods!), while making sure your nutrient-needs are being met. In planning your meals, shopping and meal preparation for a busy week, you'll be sure to be on top of your game!

Many dietitians (including me!) will also provide cooking demonstrations to groups or individuals, which will also include information on food safety and contamination, basic cooking techniques and skills, and substitutions for medical conditions as needed using medical nutrition therapy.

Other Sports Nutrition Topics

An area not much thought about in regards to an RDN helping in is with the use of sports supplements and performance-enhancing aids (ergogenic aids). An RDN will be able to guide and educate athletes in the appropriate use and safety of supplements and aids. As this area of sports performance continues to grow and become overwhelming, a trusted health professional such as a registered dietitian nutritionist should be used to help clarify misinformation as they have adequate education, training, and tools to use for this population from evidence-based research.

As mentioned before in regards to preventing nutrient deficiencies, an RDN can help athletes with ensuring enough nutrients are consumed, which can also help in prevention and treatment of injuries. Certain sports have higher-risk injuries, but many can be prevented or the risk reduced through good nutrition. Think of your bones and tears- nutrients build up your bones, tendons, and ligaments, such as calcium and proteins. If those nutrients are not consumed in amounts needed by the growing body, this can result in higher-risk of injury or a break versus a sprain. The healing process also needs to be considered, as specific nutrients will improve and strengthen damaged areas and the RDN can ensure during this time, that the athlete is getting enough in their diet to help the healing process.

How do I work with a Sports Dietitian?

Having a sports dietitian on your side during your most difficult years is going to save you time, avoid confusion which could result in nutrient deficiencies or other medical problems or injuries, and ensure you are fueled properly for optimal performance and your body is growing appropriately.

My sports nutrition counseling services are provided in packages, along with services to individual sports teams, coaches, parents, or families.

Additional registered dietitian nutritionists can be found using the following link:

Information provided on this website does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to assist in the diagnosis, treatment or alleviation of any medical condition. Persons seeking to address a medical condition should consult with a qualified medical professional. Emily Richters Fasciana LLC will not be liable for any damages, losses, injury or liability suffered as a result of reliance on the information provided on this website.

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