Whether you are a competitive athlete or play recreational sports, it’s imperative to fuel your body appropriately. Many of us are aware that consuming enough protein helps with muscle growth and repair, eating enough carbohydrates helps fuel our training, and choosing the right beverages with added electrolytes helps us stay hydrated. However, sometimes we neglect to consider the impact our diet has on the planet.

Sustainable nutrition has been defined as the ongoing science-based pursuit for solutions that provide affordable, accessible, nutrient-rich foods that can nourish the world’s growing global population, while also protecting environmental resources.1 While this may not be something you think about daily, it really does matter in the long run. Here are some ways you and your family can incorporate more sustainable practices into your diet while also having a positive impact on overall athletic performance and the environment:

Grow Some of Your Own Food

It could be as simple as herbs in a pot. This process can help give you a greater appreciation and understanding of all the factors involved in making plants thrive, the attention needed to successfully grow food and what the seed to table process looks like. Those insights may ultimately influence how you and your family buy, use, and dispose of food.

Limit Your Trips to the Grocery Store

Rethink your grocery list when helping to meal plan for the week so that you only travel to the store once instead of three to four times per week. And when checking out, bring reusable shopping bags or choose paper bags over plastic. Click here for some simple ways to reduce food waste. And for some sustainable culinary dairy tips, check out this blog post.

Eat Local & What’s in Season

Shopping locally is a fun way to support your community. It keeps your dollars where you live and can help foster a healthy environment for neighbors. When you purchase foods that were grown locally, it cuts down on the amount of fuel needed to ship the food to your market. When possible, focus on foods that are available in season where you live to help contribute to a sustainable pattern of eating.

Hydrate with Reusable Bottles

Instead of purchasing individual bottled beverages, which can be more expensive and use more materials for packaging, use a refillable bottle and fill it up throughout the day with milk, chocolate milk or water to stay properly hydrated.

Choose Dairy Foods

Dairy has a powerful nutrient package which includes 13 essential nutrients like protein, calcium and vitamin D. Key nutrients in milk, like zinc and selenium, also play a role in healthy immune function. Milk also serves as a one-stop shop to help athletes meet the three R’s of recovery – rebuild, refuel and rehydrate. Dairy is not only good for you, but it’s also made with care for the planet. From the farm to your fridge, the dairy industry is taking steps to reduce food waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Did You Know infographic
Did You Know infographic
Did You Know infographic

As a student athlete, it’s understandable that your sports performance is your number one goal. By striving for a diet that’s sustainable and nutritious, you can eat to support your athletic goals and the planet! To learn more, check out this virtual dairy farm tour field trip.


  1. https://www.usdairy.com/news-articles/sustainable-diets-must-nourish-people-protect-planet
  2. https://www.americandairy.com/news-and-events/dairy-diary/dietitian-blog/13-essential-nutrients-in-milk.stml