Five Nutrition Resolutions Every Young Rower Should Make

January 05, 2015

The New Year has arrived, and many rowers and their parents have made resolutions. In fact, about 45% of Americans make a New Year’s resolution each year. Although only 8% will succeed at keeping their resolution, the attempt at self-improvement is almost always a good thing. Many resolutions focus on health, including eating better, cooking more, getting more exercise, or losing weight.

Here are five nutrition resolutions I think every rower should make:

Eat Breakfast.
It’s estimated that about 20% of kids (9-13 years) and 36% of teens (14-18 years) skip breakfast. The reasons vary, but include running short on time in the morning, not feeling hungry, or eating too much the night before, which can suppress morning appetite signals. Rowers need a healthy, balanced breakfast to jump start their engine (metabolism), help them pay attention in school, meet important nutrient requirements, and feel energized throughout the day. Try a smoothie, instant oatmeal, a handful of nuts and cereal, a bar, or even a box of flavored milk.

Beef Up Your Lunch.
Skimping on lunch with a salad or a cup of soup, or a sandwich and nothing else may be an uber-healthy approach to eating, but it doesn’t work for the rower, especially when after-school training is on the horizon. Lunch is the meal that loads the rower’s body with essential carbs and protein (as well as other nutrients) for training. Instead of a salad or broth-based soup, try a sandwich or wrap on whole grain bread served with a cup of soup and fresh fruit. Equally good, opt for the balanced school lunch!

Pace Your Eating.
If breakfast and/or lunch are inadequate, the rower is bound to experience significant hunger later in the day. After school or practice, or even after a full dinner, hunger may rear its ugly head, and the rower may overeat, and perhaps even binge (eat a large amount of food in a short period of time). Overeating can cause unwanted weight gain, and if done at night, may interfere with the morning appetite, and disturb the rhythm of eating during the day. The ideal is to pace eating evenly throughout the day, having something every 3 to 4 hours, which will evenly distribute nutrients, protein and calories.


Eat the Right Food.
Candy, sweet muffins, chocolate-coated granola bars, chips, and cookies are the wrong foods for rowers to be eating routinely. Once in a while is acceptable, but relying on unhealthy foods to sustain a training program or competition is silly. While these foods can fit into the rower’s diet, they should take a backseat to healthy food. Focus on the right foods, like whole grains, fruit, veggies, lean proteins sources, and low fat dairy products, to make the most of your training and athletic potential.

Remember Fluids.
Dehydration is the rower’s worst performance enemy. Hydrating for practice should occur all day, from eating nutritious, juicy food to drinking enough water or other beverages. Before practice, rowers should drink plenty of water, milk or small amounts of 100% juice. During practice, rowers should drink water or sports drink, and replenish with more fluids after practice to replenish sweat losses. Remember, dehydrated muscles don’t operate well. They can get stuck (cramping), fatigue early, or simply underperform.

Make a resolution to focus on these positive nutrition habits! These modifications will fuel the rower’s body for training and competition, while setting healthy lifetime habits.

Jill Castle, MS, RDN is a childhood nutrition expert and co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School ( She is the creator of Just The Right Byte (, and is working on her next book, Eat Like a Champion: Performance Nutrition for Your Young Athlete, which releases in July. She lives with her husband and four children in New Canaan, CT.

Jill Castle, MS, RDN