From aspiring scientists to athletes to artists, Kentucky’s K-12 students take steps, large and small, every day to reach their goals and succeed in the game of life. To pursue their passions, talents and dreams, they need a nutrient-packed, balanced diet to fuel their bodies and minds in order to perform at their best. Competing in the game of life without proper nutrition is like driving a vehicle without using proper gas and oil. Like that vehicle, their performance will be subpar, and their mind, body and spirit will slowly break down!

Tayshaun Prince

Why Eat to Win

Eat to Win

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Only 13.2 percent of Kentucky youth eat fruits and vegetables five or more times a day. The national average is 21.4 percent.

40.5 percent of Kentucky students drink one or more sodas per day. The national average is 33.8 percent.

59 percent of American high school students skip breakfast three or more times a week.

37 percent of Kentucky youth are either obese or overweight.

eat fruits and vegetables

Student Athletes

Eat to Win

Kentucky students enhance their chances of reaching their dreams when they consume a balanced diet that fuels their bodies, minds, and spirits. By consuming five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily, students give their minds and bodies the nutrients they need to perform at their best.

Breakfast is Best
Over 50% of middle and high school-aged athletes skip breakfast 3 or more times per week and over 15% skip breakfast daily. 1 in 3 of these athletes is female. This overnight “fasting” effect lowers glycogen levels in the body and impairs performance, especially when the athlete engages in prolonged endurance activity. Remember, carbohydrates equal energy. When you restrict carbohydrates, you restrict energy. At a minimum, grab a serving of fruit (an apple, banana, orange, etc.) every morning before you leave your house.

Variety Matters
Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure that you are getting proper amounts of different vitamins and minerals. This will help fuel your body for upcoming activities (training, practice, games) as well as replace what you have depleted after the end of activities.

Don’t Cram
Eat healthy portions of carbohydrates everyday rather than trying to “cram” all of your carbohydrates into 1 pre-game or post-game meal. Make sure to add appropriate levels of protein, essential fats and fluids to all meals in order to meet your total nutrition needs.

Before, During, and After
For pre-game meals, athletes are advised to eat 2 to 3 hours for a smaller portion-size meal and 3 to 4 hours for a larger portion-size meal before the start of activity. Athletes should focus on more carbohydrates and less fat, which are easier to digest while maintaining vital energy levels in the body. Additionally, if their body can tolerate it, athletes can eat a small carbohydrate-based snack (an apple, banana, orange, etc.) within 1 hour of the activity.

During activity, especially those lasting longer than 1 hour, it is important to eat a small amount of carbohydrates (30-60grams) in order to maintain vital energy levels. While sports drinks will do, they are also loaded with sugar. Mixing in a medium size fruit along with sports drinks prevents feelings of hunger and weakness.

For post-game meals, athletes should eat a carbohydrate-focused meal within 60 to 90 minutes after the completion of the activity to replenish muscles. Athletes should also add an adequate amount of protein to their post-game meal to repair tissues.

Athletes need to eat breakfast

Content supplied by University of Kentucky Athletics Dietitian Jill Kindy and Reviewed by University of Kentucky Graduate Center for Nutritional Sciences Professor Geza Bruckner