Most Frequently Asked Nutrition Questions (and Answers!)

  • How much protein do I need as an athlete?
    • Yes! Protein is so important for athletes. LEARN MORE HERE for reasons to eat more protein from a dietitian who lifts.
    • Click HERE for the best plant and animal protein bars and powders.
    • High-quality animal proteins are some of the best sources of protein. Click HERE for our recommendations.
    • Which Greek yogurt brands are the best? Here are our top Greek yogurt picks!
  • What should I eat the night before a game?
    • The foods you eat the night before a game can impact your performance positively or negatively. Learn exactly what to eat HERE.
  • How many carbs, calories, and protein should my athlete eat?
    • It depends on the athlete’s age, sport, body composition, goals, and training volume! Learn how much a high school athlete should eat HERE.
  • What should I eat before a game or tournament?
    • Set yourself up for success and learn more about what to eat on a game day HERE.
    • Tips for fueling a tournament HERE.
    • Sports nutrition tips for strength and conditioning coaches HERE!
  • Is creatine safe for my child?
    • Yes, creatine is safe for any child, athlete, adult, or individual at any age playing any sport. Read the full blog HERE.
    • Click HERE and HERE to learn more from Wendi!
  • What should I feed high school athletes?
    • High school athletes need balanced meals with protein, carbs, produce, and healthy fats. For no cook meal and snack ideas, click HERE. Nutrient timing is also important for optimizing performance. Learn more about what and when to eat HERE. With their busy schedules, eating out is bound to happen. Learn how to make healthy eating out choices for your athlete HERE.
  • What are the best breakfast options?
    • Breakfast is an important part of an athlete’s fueling strategy and should never be missed. HERE are some great, quick breakfast ideas for your high school athlete. 
    • Protein is important for athletic performance so try out THESE high-protein waffles! Prep THIS egg bake for the week to set your athlete up for success! On the go and need something quick? Try out THIS protein overnight oats recipe!
    • Nutrients missed at breakfast are not made up later in the day! Click HERE for 3 high-protein breakfast options from Wendi.
  • I always cook the same things. What new recipes should I try?
    • Check out our 30 Days of Recipes! These are easy, quick, nutritious meals that will fuel the whole family.
  • Why is Vitamin D important?
    • Vitamin D is a key nutrient for overall health and performance and is extremely important for athletes. Click HERE to learn why!
    • Vitamin D deficiency is common but can be very problematic, especially for athletes. Read HERE to learn about the risk factors, signs, and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
  • Are eggs healthy?
    • YES! Eggs have so many beneficial nutrients, backed by science. Read why HERE.
  • How can I build a fueling station for high school athletes?
    • Fueling stations are a great way to provide optimal nutrition for athletes around practice times. If you are an athletic director, coach, or strength and conditioning staff member, read HERE about sports nutrition tips for your athletes. 
    • The biggest question is usually what to put in a fueling station. First, start with these pre-practice snacks. Second, focus on between practice/games fuel – this is great for tournaments or when there is a break between practice and lift. Then, focus on these staples for gameday and on-the-road fuel options.
    • These are some practical strategies to incorporate for your youth athletes.
    • Refueling the youth athlete in less than 500 words blog can be a great tool for you as a parent, coach, athlete, or athletic director! -Read it HERE!
  • Is strength training safe for young athletes?
    • YES!! Strength training is so beneficial for youth athletes, for several reasons. Here are some stats on how lack of strength training increases injury risk. Learn more HERE.
  • Wendi, should youth athletes play multiple sports?
    • See the data on why athletes should play multiple sports HERE

See testimonials from parents, coaches, athletes, athletic directors, and families we have served over the last 5 years HERE.

Benefits of working with a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist for your high school or collegiate programs?

  • Strength, power, speed, and endurance enhancement
  • In season nutrition presentations and accountablity
  • Pre & post season nutrition
  • What to eat at meals, snacks, and overall energy intake
  • Nutrition for Injury Recovery or post-surgery from an injury
  • Supplement safety
  • What to eat before and after games or at tournaments
  • Weight loss & weight gain
  • Hydration & anti-inflammation

Have more questions? We have answers!

  • If you are looking for a team talk or presentation fill out our contact form to set up a FREE 15-min call HERE. Check out our performance nutrition partnership HERE.
  • Health and performance guidebook that has over 170 resources including meal plans and tip sheets HERE.
  • Take our FREE health assessment to see if you’re a good fit for our family or student-athlete nutrition coaching programs. Click here

What can hiring a sports nutritionist offer your program? Learn more here.  Interested in signing up for the NEW and upcoming NWW newsletter? Click here to sign up!

The Nutrition with Wendi team utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. We partner with parents, athletes, health professionals, and individuals and offer elite nutrition and health guidance for optimal athletic performance, injury, and disease reduction.  We provide virtual sports nutrition coaching, education, and presentations virtually in Texas, Florida, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Arizona, and Michigan. Our primary office is based in Nashville, Tennesse where we serve the greater Brentwood, Franklin, and Green Hills communities.  Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more nutrition information. Services booking here to consult with Wendi for a team talk or QA session.

 

Fueling the XC/Track and Field Student Athlete

 

Track & Field athletes compete in one or more events that consist of running, throwing, and jumping. Track and field competitors train for strength, speed, power, and endurance and require adequate nutrition and hydration to support the demands of the sport. In order to excel in the season of season nutrition, sleep, recovery, and overall habits are critical.

Track & field/ XC athletes require a high amount of calories, carbohydrates, and sufficient protein. The number of calories, carbs, protein, and fat will depend on the phase of training, along with the intensity, and whether the athlete is in season, pre-season, or in the off-season. The athlete’s performance plate is a simple place to start. Portions will vary based on the athlete’s goals and training phase respectively.

Carbohydrate requirements in the health and fitness industry are constantly being debated. Randomized control trial studies which are the gold standard for research support the notion endurance athletes require carbohydrates for optimal performance.

Regardless, the carb conundrum continues on leading to significant confusion amongst both young, college, and even masters athletes. I can’t tell you how many countless conversations I have had with fellow dietitians, practitioners, and sports scientists about this carbohydrate debacle. 

 

Several keto and carnivore physicians are making the water even more muddled with their banter on carb needs for competitive athletes and even young athletes without respect to context. I have written many blogs about fueling young athletes based on the position stand papers of both the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). Read here

 

 

 


  • The TheAcademy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), Dietitians of Canada (DC), and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) published a joint position stand paper that recommends that moderate exercise (1 h/day (h/day) recommends 5–7 g per kilogram of body weight per day (g/kg/day) of CHO.
  • Whereas moderate to high-intensity exercise (1–3 h/day) requires 6–10 g/kg/day. 
  • Ultra-endurance athletes with extreme levels of commitment to daily activity (4–5 h of moderate to high-intensity exercise every day) may need up to 8–12 g/kg/day (2). 
  • The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) recommends in order to maximize glycogen stores athletes should consume an 8–12 g/kg/day high CHO diet (1).

 


Over the years I have delivered presentations to high schools, clubs, and collegiate programs on how to properly eat and fuel for endurance and power.

Below is a table outlining the recommendations using common body weight for an athlete that we have received great feedback on Specifically from one of the NWW  partners, DOANE University Track and Field.

Why focus on nutrient quality?

👟Protein for muscle maintenance, growth & repair

👟Hydration and minerals for muscle contraction & cardiac function

👟Carbs + calories for power, speed, strength & endurance


Another common example of a 165 lb.👟 that is best to spread meals and snacks throughout the day but focus on eating within targets listed below:

👉375-525g carbs

👉120-150g protein

👉60-80g fat

Total kcal range: 2,500-3,500 kcal

 

 


Nutrient quality and why it matters

When deciding how to eat and fuel you must focus on nutrient quality. You should strive to balance as many high-quality protein sources as eggs, beef, chicken, fish, Greek yogurt, and beans to ensure you’re getting key nutrients you won’t attain from protein supplements. Many athletes often use protein powders and bars in place of real food and fail to understand that quality is more important than quantity. (click here for snack and meal ideas)

  • For example, Greek yogurt is going to offer you high-quality protein rich in leucine (the number one driver for muscle protein synthesis) along with other key nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and probiotics you won’t get from a protein powder or bar. (food first supplement second should always be your focus. 
  • Supplements are meant to supplement the gaps in our nutrition not replace actual meals. If you expect supplements to be a “meal” you are literally rearranging furniture on a sinking ship. -A quote I enjoy using for many topics like discussing pre-workouts and advocating for quality food choices.

Practical application:

That being said you can take a look at a simple fueling example for XC/TF athletes along with some recommendations on snacks. 

 

In good health, faith, and fitness

-Wendi A. Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN

The Nutrition with Wendi team utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. We partner with parents, athletes, health professionals, and individuals and offer elite nutrition and health guidance for optimal athletic performance, injury, and disease reduction.  We provide virtual services including telehealth but are based in Nashville, TN. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more nutrition information. Services booking here

 

 

 

Resources
1. Thomas D.T., Erdman K.A., Burke L.M. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. J. Acad. Nutr. Diet. 2016;116:501–528. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.12.006.
2 Vitale, K., & Getzin, A. (2019). Nutrition and Supplement Update for the Endurance Athlete: Review and Recommendations. Nutrients, 11(6), 1289. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11061289
3.Kloby Nielsen, L. L., Tandrup Lambert, M. N., & Jeppesen, P. B. (2020). The Effect of Ingesting Carbohydrate and Proteins on Athletic Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients, 12(5), 1483. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12051483