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Food, Nutrition Expert Offers Nutrition Tips for Student Athletes: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Celebrates Kids Eat Right Month® in August

August 24, 2023

CHICAGO – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages young athletes to follow individualized nutrition and physical activity plans that help them meet their short-term needs as an athlete and their long-term needs as they grow into adulthood.

In August, the Academy and its Foundation celebrate the importance of healthful eating and active lifestyles for children and their families during the annual Kids Eat Right Month®.

"The amount and type of nutrients student athletes need varies with their age and activity level, so athletes should follow an individualized eating plan designed by a registered dietitian nutritionist, a food and nutrition expert," says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Yasi Ansari of Los Angeles.

Student athletes require more calories to fuel their activities, but not all calories are the same. They need foods that provide energy and support their health, growth and performance. Nutritional deficiencies can result in student athletes not having the energy they need to perform and can lead to poor bone health, irregular or missed periods, lower testosterone and increased mental and physical fatigue, says Ansari, who specializes in nutrition for athletic performance.

Ansari, who often works with dancers, notes that these athletes face specific concerns during performance season such as not having time to eat nutritious meals and snacks between rehearsals, performances and travel. "Performing arts athletes should eat a meal or snack every three to four hours all year long as they are training," she said.

Ansari offers the following tips for dancers and other athletes:

  • Aim for a balance when planning meals so that they include fiber-rich carbohydrates and moderate amounts of lean protein and healthful fats.
  • Choose carbohydrates that are easily digested and paired with a protein food for a snack one to two hours before an activity.
  • Include a variety of protein foods to support muscle growth and repair: Examples include fish, poultry, lean meats, eggs, low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt or fortified soy versions, nuts, seeds and beans.
  • Focus on carbohydrates for energy: In addition to protein, some foods like milk and yogurt also contain carbohydrates. Other sources include rice, pasta and bread. Whole grains, such as oats and quinoa, as well as fruits and vegetables also provide dietary fiber, antioxidants and support general health.
  • Incorporate healthful fats for additional fuel: Nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and avocados supply healthful fats to support growth and development.
  • Stay well hydrated: Drink water daily and be sure to hydrate with fluids before, during and after a performance or rehearsal. Depending on the activity, a sports drink may be recommended to replenish nutrients that are lost through sweating. Monitor how often you urinate and the volume of the urine you produce.

For more personalized nutrition and hydration information, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in sports nutrition.

Kids Eat Right Month®

Kids Eat Right Month® was established by the Academy's Foundation in 2014. Resources are available for parents and caregivers, as well as Academy members, to promote healthful food choices and physical activity habits, culturally relevant tips and recipes to help consumers shop smart and cook healthful foods.

Learn more by visiting the Academy's website and the Foundation's website. To find a registered dietitian nutritionist near you, visit the Academy's Find a Nutrition Expert directory.


Representing more than 112,000 credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at

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