You may have a swimmer, wrestler or basketball player who needs some guidance on what to eat for optimal performance. It can be challenging for students and parents to know how to meet the needs of a teenager who is training and growing at the same time.

For today's On the Menu segment, Registered Dietitian Sara Nychypor from Mercy Health shares some key points on nutrition for your athlete.

Key Ideas:

• Eat a healthy meal 2-4 hours before a practice or meet. Healthy meals are an important backbone for the athlete. Avoid refined and high sugar, high fat items. Build your plate with whole grains, including low fat dairy, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats.

• Eat a low fat, carbohydrate rich snack within an hour before your meet. Drink water or a sports drink along with your snack. Choose simple items like trail mix or raisins, a granola bar, fruit strip, banana or crackers.

• The body uses carbohydrates for fuel. Your body uses the available CHO from food first and then finds a CHO source that is stored in your liver and muscles, called glycogen. You use 30-60g CHO per hour with moderate to intense physical activity.

• Replace glycogen stores with a Recovery snack/meal in the first hour after intense exercise. Most student athletes will need 50-100g of CHO and 7-20g protein in this snack.

• Research shows that chocolate milk is a better recovery drink than sports beverages because it provides a higher content of CHO to replace depleted glycogen stores, and provides a protein serving.

• Avoid high sugar beverages including soda and energy drinks. Choose water, milk or 100% juice.

Meal/Recovery snack ideas:

• Egg sandwich – Whole grain English muffin with egg, provolone cheese, spinach and 1T butter or mayo

• Oatmeal with milk and blueberries

• Granola with Greek vanilla yogurt

• Whole grain bread with peanut butter and jelly

• Pasta with chicken or ground turkey and pasta sauce

• Whole grain tortilla with ground turkey or lean beef, black beans/corn, peppers/onion, cheese and salsa

• Chicken or turkey wrap sandwich, with provolone cheese and veggies

• Vegetable or chicken pizza

• Lean beef burger on whole grain bun

• Tuna fish mixed with avocado mayo on whole grain crackers

Pre-meet or during workout snacks:

• Granola bar or fruit filled cereal bar

• Sports bar (choose one that is less than 10g fat, less than 20g protein and 30-60g CHO)

• Trail Mix or dried fruit

• Banana

• 100% fruit snacks or fruit strips

• Dry cereal

• Yogurt

• String cheese

Beverages to Choose:

• Water

• 1% or 2% chocolate milk

• 1% or 2% white milk

• 100% juice

• yogurt or fruit smoothies

Courtesy: Sara Nychypor, RDN

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