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Fact-sheet: Eating for Sport and your Canteen

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Sporting clubs across the country are leading the way when it comes to promoting physical fitness. Clubs are in the unique position to further their positive influence by promoting and providing healthy food and drink choices for their members and community alike. Physical activity and healthy eating go hand-in-hand for healthy bodies and peak performance – a win for the community and for the team!

By providing healthy food in-line with our national evidence-based dietary guidelines, your canteen can contribute to the nutritionally adequate diet that everyone can benefit from.  Serious competitors and dedicated social players all the way through to our children in junior competition, need a healthy diet to perform at their best.


Fluids & hydration

Water is the best choice for hydration for adults and children alike. Stay hydrated and improve performance by:

  • Sipping on water regularly throughout the day.
  • Drinking water before, during and after sport.
  • Always having your own water bottle on hand to take regular sips.

Fluid losses during sport occur mostly via sweating. Losses of just 2% can impair performance, endurance, recovery, concentration, co-ordination, skill and decision-making. Yet, most people will not necessarily feel thirsty at this point. Children in particular, whose sweating mechanisms are not fully developed, require water to help with keeping their body temperature down, especially in hot weather conditions. The exact amount of fluid required differs according to factors such as age, weather and activity levels – the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand provide further detail.

Juniors (and adults) do not need sports drinks while playing sport, as the duration and intensity of junior sport does not warrant electrolyte replacement drinks. It is important to keep in mind that a 600ml bottle of sports drinks contains excessive sugar – around 11 teaspoons -another great reason to make water your drink of choice at sport.

Clubs should ensure that water is promoted and available from the canteen and around the rest of the club. Also refer to the ‘Fluids for junior sport‘ fact sheet.


Food & Performance

Generally, we are able to get the range of nutrients we need for performance and health by eating a wide variety of foods from the five core food groups (for details check out the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating from our national evidence-based dietary guidelines). These foods also provide us with all the micronutrients we need, such as vitamin C, B group vitamins and calcium that are important to keep us strong and healthy. The macronutrients important during physical activity include carbohydrates and proteins –


Carbohydrates provide us with the fuel we need for working muscles and our brain during physical activity. Healthy food sources include:

  • Wholegrain varieties of breads, cereals, pasta and rice
  • Fruits
  • Low-fat milk and yoghurt
  • Some vegetables such as potatoes and corn


Proteins provide the building blocks to repair wear and tear after exercise. Healthy food sources include:

  • Lean meat/ chicken/ fish
  • Reduced-fat milk, yoghurt, cheese
  • Eggs
  • Nuts


Suggestions for healthy foods before and after sport:

Focus on a variety of foods from the core food groups, that are lower in fat, added sugar and added salt. Some great options include:

  • Super Sandwich/Wrap: Wholegrain bread or wrap with plenty of salad and a choice of lean ham, chicken, tinned fish or egg.
  • Potato Power: Baked jacket potato topped with lean savoury mince or baked beans and a little reduced-fat cheese (Top tip: Mince can be made in bulk and frozen in smaller portions)
  • Burger: Lean beef patty on a bread roll with plenty of salad and low-fat cheese.
  • Pasta: Pasta and vegies in a tomato based sauce (Top tip: Pasta can be made in advance and frozen, reheat in the microwave and place in your warmer ready for service)


Quick snack ideas:

  • Crackers with reduced-fat cheese and tomato
  • Fruit smoothie with low-fat milk
  • Plain fruit bun/bread
  • Fruit (try sliced, fun apple slinkies, fruit cups or skewers)
  • Energiser pack – Dried fruit, nuts and seeds mix
  • Popcorn, air-popped
  • Frozen fruit cup (Top Tip: Frozen fruit cups can be prepared by blending up any fruit – either whole pieces that didn’t sell on the day in the canteen and or combining with tinned fruit in natural juice and placing them in cups and freezing. You could also add some reduced fat milk or yoghurt)


Find out more about the Good Sports Healthy Eating program and register your club’s interest here.

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