Most young athletes deal with nerves, especially on a big meet or tournament days. Nerves typically subside as athletes begin competing, but the consequences of nerves can have lingering effects on their performance.
Nerves often make it difficult for young athletes to eat properly before competition, and competing on an empty stomach is a recipe for poor performance.
So, when your athlete is feeling nervous but you need to get them fueled up, try these three foods.
If your athlete is particularly anxious in the morning while you're still home, try a fruit smoothie made in the blender. Include a protein source such as protein powder, milk or almond milk, or yogurt. Remember we're aiming for roughly a 50%, 25%, 25% balance of Carbs, Protein, Fats.
If you're out and about, look for a juice+protein drink at the store, like Bolthouse or Naked.
2. Greek Yogurt
Greek Yogurt is a great snack to get athletes' metabolism going and fueled to compete. Greek yogurt typically offers protein without too much fat or sugar. Our recommendation is Fage Total Split Cup which has carbohydrates from real fruit and is about 50% Carb, 40% protein, 10% fat.
Fruit is always a go-to for fueling up pre-competition but it can be particularly valuable if your athlete is reluctant to eat anything substantial. Common household fruits are all good options: banana, apple, berries, etc. However, keep in mind fruit is essentially 100% simple carbohydrates (quick energy) so be sure to focus on complex carbs (whole wheat bread/bagel, oats, vegetables, etc) and protein for their next snack or meal. Think of fruit as a short-term solution: something to hold them over for an hour or two.
Impossible for your athlete to eat anything? Try chewing gum! Studies have shown that chewing gum reduces anxiety and lowers cortisol levels. Think of it as tricking the brain into thinking you're eating, thus relaxing your nerves.