It's no mystery, nutrition is vital to the health of human beings. We all know it, yet in every country in the world, we are witnessing an increase in obesity rates year after year. Since at least the 1970's we've had scientifically proven, observably accurate, and abundantly clear information on nutrition and its importance in overall health and performance. I remember when playing football in the 1990's hearing coaches preach nutritional sermons regularly to our team. It seems like that in those days common knowledge of nutrition, especially the role of protein, carbs, and hydration was less common than it is today. You'd expect that today's athletes would have a more firm grip on nutrition than a generation ago. But recent studies bring that into question.
Recent studies 1 have shown that high school football players scored only 67% on a basic nutritional quiz. That's 67% - a D grade! Even more shocking is that the majority of high school football players regularly skip breakfast (something all experts agree is the determinant of health & performance). Only 41% of athletes regularly eat breakfast. You might be thinking, that's okay, they eat lunch very early these days at school. Initially, the data would agree, a whopping 97% of the student body regularly eats lunch at school. However, only 26% of those lunches are nutritionally balanced and are often high in fat.
The Bottom Line
"High school football players are not knowledgeable about nutrition. Even though they learn about the Food Guide Pyramid and the servings and serving sizes in health class in ninth grade, they are not retaining this knowledge or making good food choices based on it." 1
The Nutritional Advantage
All this data suggests that roughly half of all high school football players are skipping meals, not eating a balanced diet, don't understand the significance of pregame meals, are not eating to fuel training, and don't have proper hydration. This represents an advantage for football players that say "AMEN" to their coach's plea to take this seriously. If all of our players are fueled up to practice and train at a high level, they will be better prepared come game time. On game day, when our players eat that pregame meal full of carbs, some protein and are consuming proper amounts of water, they will likely face a less nourished opponent. During the game, as our players compete in each play to win their individual matchups, our well-nourished players will face half of their opponents who are running out of gas long before we are. Finally, after the game, when injuries stack up, our athletes will fair much better, with fewer injuries, and better recovery time to run it back and do it all over again! This represents a great nutritional advantage! Why not take it?
1 West Virginia University Research https://researchrepository.wvu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3369&context=etd