It is becoming more and more common for young athletes to have the opportunity to peruse higher level sports from a young age, but are they getting the full support and education they need to succeed and make it to level they really want to? Specifically, nutrition is very misunderstood topic for young athletes and seemingly being ignored in the national curriculum of schools, so what does your child/teenage really need to be eating to make sure they are 1) fuelled for training and performance 2) concentrating in school 3) recovering and growing well?

Eating the right foods at the right time can help you train at your best, compete at your best and importantly improve your health and future well- being and growth. The chaos of training, school and general schdedules can lead to a very erratic eating pattern and is easy to lose track of what you have and have not eaten.

Golden Rule 1  – Get prepared & organised, sit down every Sunday together and make a plan of food around that week’s schedule, work out what needs to pre-made, transported or quick to snack on throughout the week.

If your child is training and competing multiple times a week it is very likely they are not over eating. The challenge is often fuelling enough by eating enough to have the energy to perform, train and concentrate as well as having enough fuel to grow and develop at the correct rate. Try and make sure at least 90% of their calories are coming from quality foods and a small percentage from the treats they still wish to enjoy.

Golden Rule 2 – Make sure they are eating enough, if they can try eat something substantial every 4 hours or so this is a good tip to keep them topped up.  

Variation is the best way to make sure they are getting all the vitamins, minerals and energy they need, most of the best vitamins and minerals come from our fruits and vegetables with a recommended split of 3 fruit to 7 vegetables a day.

Golden Rule 3- Try to vary the diet as much as possible, if you are worried they won’t like certain foods, mix up in sauces or give small amounts each meal, it can take 20 tries of a food to accept it and eat it.  

Energy requirement for adolescents can vary, with age and type of sport they are participating in: These recommended energy allowances are the minimum necessary to ensure proper growth and bodily functions. Extra calories are needed during growth spurts and to replenish energy expended during athletic endeavours:


Age, years Male Female
4–6 1800 1800
7–10 2000 2000
11–14 2500 2200
15–18 3000 2200



Golden Rule 4 – If your child is very active on most days of the week you can expect to add up to 600 kcal per day to their recommended daily calories to ensure adequate fuelling and recovery.

If you have any questions or queries requiring your child’s nutrition please feel free to contact us here at The Better Body Group and see our resident nutritionist Elly Rees (SENr), specialising in performance nutrition with plenty of knowledge working high level young athletes. Contact us today by clicking here.