The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison. — Ann Wigmore


Tight on time? Stick with the 3 Key Takeaways and The Basics. These will provide your athletes with a solid foundation for understanding nutrition.

Have more time? Share the TrueSport Talk and discuss how an Olympic athlete can relate to this lesson.

Extra time? Continue on through to Tips & Applications for more valuable information to share with your group.

Looking for more? Explore the Downloads & Additional Resources, which offer additional conversation starters and fun physical activities to support each lesson.

3 Key Takeaways

The Basics

What is Nutrition?

Nutrition means eating the right kind of food so you can grow properly, be healthy, and perform your best in both sport and life.

Proper nutrition for youth sports can be achieved simply by encouraging athletes to:

  • Eat a good breakfast to start the day
  • Consume a balanced meal (with carbs, proteins, and fats) three-to- four hours before playing their sport
  • Eat a carb-heavy snack within 30 minutes after exercising
  • Add carbs, protein, and some healthy fats to post-exercise meals
  • Avoid supplements and rely instead on protein from food sources
  • Know that the best post-workout remedy comes from both proper nutrition and adequate rest

TrueSport Talk

Watch this TrueSport talk with DeeDee Trotter or read the lesson aloud

Track and field Olympic gold medalist DeeDee Trotter shares her personal story about how nutrition played a major part in her success at the 2012 London Olympics. Every Olympian knows the importance of nutrition and implementing a plan for eating the proper foods at the right time for peak performance. With DeeDee’s nutrition plan, she ate a simple breakfast consisting of yogurt, a banana, and an orange, giving her enough fuel and energy for the start of her day. For lunch, DeeDee ate a turkey sandwich with cheese and lettuce. This wasn’t a lot, but enough to get her ready for her evening event, the 400-meter run. After winning a bronze medal in this event, DeeDee ate grilled chicken with steamed broccoli and rice for dinner. She knew this meal was vital for recovery while also preparing her for the next day’s event: the 4 x 100-meter relay. “You will have an empty performance on an empty stomach,” says DeeDee. “A TrueSport athlete understands that nutrition is the key to maximizing performance and reaching your personal podium.”

TrueSport Talk Questions

1. What was the main point you took away from the lesson?

2. Do you have a favorite pre-game or recovery meal?

3. Do you think you could improve your nutritional habits?
If so, what things could you do?

Tips & Applications

Nutrition 101

Carbohydrates: Provide energy

Examples of healthy carbs: All fruits, all vegetables, whole-grain bread, oatmeal, popcorn, whole-grain rice, whole-grain crackers

Examples of unhealthy carbs: Chips, candy, baked goods

Protein: Building blocks for growth; aids with muscle recovery and repair

Examples of healthy protein: Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nut and seed butters, nuts, seeds, low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, cheese

Examples of unhealthy protein: Sausages, hot dogs, bacon

Fats: Protect the nervous system and assist the body in carrying vitamins

Examples of healthy fats: Olives, nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocados, fish (like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, and sardines)

Examples of unhealthy fats: French fries, chicken nuggets, other fried foods, baked goods, ice cream

Pre-, During- and Post-Training/Game: What to Eat

Pre-Game Meal

Eat it: 3-4 hours before competition

Should contain: Mostly carbs, with small amounts of protein, fat, and fiber

Example: Peanut butter and jelly or turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread; small handful of baby carrots; banana; small handful of tortilla chips


Pre-Game Snack*

Eat it: Less than 1 hour before competition

Should contain: Carbs

Example: 20 pretzels; half a bagel; serving of applesauce


During Game*

Eat it: During a break from playing

Should contain: Carbs

Example: Orange slices


Post-Game Snack

Eat it: Within 30 minutes of exercise

Should contain: Carbs with a little protein

Examples: Cereal with milk; fruit and nonfat yogurt; trail mix; banana with peanut butter


Follow post-game snack with a balanced dinner within 1-2 hours.


*Optional: Depends on hunger and exertion level

Cooler Fuelers: What to Pack for All-Day Competitions


Downloads & Additional Resources:

Lesson Companion (PDF) DOWNLOAD
Printable version of the online lesson: Away from the computer or internet access? Print out and use this handout that’s identical to the online lesson. 

15-minute activity: Practice reading nutrition labels with your athletes and learn why it’s so important to do so. 

15-minute quiz: Test your students’ knowledge of proper sports nutrition with this quick review (answers included).

Nutrition Tracking (PDF) DOWNLOAD
20-minute activity: Have your athletes track their eating habits over the course of a week, then set appropriate eating goals for better athletic performance.

Handout: Ten quick tips to help your youth athletes achieve peak performance through proper nutrition.

TrueSport Certificate (PDF) DOWNLOAD
Lesson Certificate: Celebrate your groups’ completion of the TrueSport Nutrition lesson with this special certificate.

Nutrition: Parent Handout (PDF) DOWNLOAD
Handout: 1 Page Nutrition Lesson Handout for Parents

Nutrition: Athlete Handout (PDF) DOWNLOAD
Handout: 1 Page Nutrition Lesson Recap Handout for Athlete