Attracting students to colleges and universities is becoming a challenge and the competitiveness of bringing in talented student athletes continues to increase. It’s time for recruiters to find new ways to differentiate themselves and entice student-athletes to their programs. What about food?
Nutrition is essential for all students but is serious business for student-athletes. Food is fuel, and the right food will give them the edge for their practices and ultimately their game days.
Sports nutrition is as much an art as it is a science, and the precise balance between athletes of different sports—or even different positions within the same sport—can make all the difference in a game or competition. Our culinary and dietary experts regularly work with our university partners to establish optimized meal plans for their athletes. Here are some of the most important things they think university athletic departments should know.
Food = Energy = Performance
Awareness of food intake is crucial for student athletes to ensure they’re optimizing their performance, no matter what sport or position they play. There’s a reason that runners eat pasta right before a race, or that bodybuilders eat chicken and broccoli when bulking. Just as different body types are better suited to certain sports—or even certain positions within the same sport—different types of athletes have different dietary needs to help reach their performance goals.
When talking about sports nutrition, we spend a lot of time thinking about energy availability. The meals an athlete consumes brings a variety of energy sources into their body. Some are readily available and easy to access, such as carbohydrates (which support endurance), while other nutrients aid in repairing muscle to increase strength, like protein. Fats and micronutrients also play a large role in athletic performance by keeping individuals feeling fuller for longer. This supports blood sugar regulation, which can impact energy levels, and helps promote a healthy body to fight off illness and injury.
The Impact of Insufficient Nutrition
When athletes don’t receive enough energy through their food, they can experience negative impacts to their health and performance. Some of the early signs of energy inefficiency can be:
- Difficulty recovering from illness or injury
- Unintentional weight loss
- Reduced muscular strength
- Atypical mental health struggles, like depression
- Abnormally poor performance
For athletic directors and coaches, supporting healthy, balanced student diets is a great way to create a stronger athletic program.
Supporting Student Dietary Needs
The dining services offered at each university can have a large impact on student athlete performance. Many schools require first-year students to purchase an on-campus meal plan, and many athletes choose to eat in the dining hall for ease of access around practices, classes, and games.
With that in mind, dining halls must provide adequate nutrition options for their student athletes.
When schools partner with Creative Dining Services they receive access to our on-staff nutrition experts. We can help coaches craft meal plans for their athletes based on the positions and sport they play. We help develop peak performance meals in addition to a general scorecard to help coaches and students plan their meals for the week.
Attract Excellent Talent With Excellent Dining
Athletic talent recruitment is incredibly competitive. Whether the schools you’re competing against already offer tailored athletic nutrition programming, or you’re trying to get a leg-up, showing that your school prioritizes student athletes and their performance can greatly increase your school’s appeal.
Curious about what a peak performance meal could look like, or how we tailor our scorecards to your student athletes? We’d love to talk about the types of support your athletic program could benefit from the most.