Nutrition tips for athletes including smoothie, apple, and dumbells

In order to perform your best at game time, your body needs the right nutrition. Here are some tips from UPMC Sports Medicine to help maximize your athletic performance and avoid injury.

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Nutrition Tips for Athletes

Nutrition Tip #1

Plan Ahead

Don’t get caught without a plan. Plan a high energy snack the night before, or in the morning. One to two graham crackers with peanut butter is a perfect choice.

Nutrition #2

Breakfast: Three Food Group Rule

Breakfast is the most difficult meal for most athletes, but it doesn’t have to be. The goal of every breakfast should be to incorporate at least three food groups to create a performance plate. For example: peanut butter (protein) + whole wheat toast (grain) + a clementine (Fruit).

Nutrition Tip #3

Don’t Neglect Sodium Rich Foods

Sodium rich foods can be a performance saver prior to competition or hard training. Foods like pretzels, soup, or just simply adding salt to your oatmeal are easy ways to add more sodium.

Nutrition Tip #4

Eat for Your Sport

Each sport requires a different nutrition plan. Fueling for your sport needs to be tailored for the intensity, type, and duration of the sport. For example: Distance runners require more carbohydrates than sprinters.

RELATED: 5 Common Nutrition Tips for Runners

Nutrition Tip #5

Refueling is Just as Important as Fueling

Completing a workout means it’s time to begin refueling. Consume a carbohydrate-protein combination within 15 minutes of training completion. Example: low-fat Greek yogurt.

Nutrition Tip #6

Don’t Like to Eat Before Competition? Try Liquid Foods

Many athletes do not like to eat anything before competition because of the feeling of fullness in their stomachs. Because pre-competition fueling is a must, go with liquid foods. Yogurts, smoothies, and soups are a few healthy options.

Nutrition Tip #7

Injured? Nutrition Is That Much More Important

When injured, focus more on proteins and less on carbohydrates. Make sure to add good sources of calcium and vitamin D for bone health as well.


UPMC Sports Medicine has sports nutrition experts that help athletes of all ages understand that proper fueling and hydrating are vital pieces of the performance puzzle, and tailor nutrition programs for pro and amateur athletes.

Our experts also offer sport-specific and female-athlete nutrition programs.

To make an appointment or learn more about our nutrition services, visit

About Sports Medicine

An athletic lifestyle carries the potential for injury. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, our multidisciplinary team of experts can help you get back into the game. If you are seeking to improve your athletic performance, we can work with you to meet your goals. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you love. Visit our website to find a specialist near you.