Sports dietitian helps young athletes excel and stay healthy


Imagine pushing your limits in every practice and competition, knowing your body is fueled to prevent injury, optimize performance and improve recovery. This crucial support of young athletes is made possible by sports dietitians like Emma Ware who craft personalized nutrition plans for adolescents to excel in their sport and stay competitive.

Inspired at an early age

In her youth as a competitive swimmer practicing four hours daily, Emma was referred by her pediatrician to a sports dietitian at our hospital and discovered she was unintentionally underfueling. She remembers leaving her first appointments fascinated by the scientific reasons behind the dietitian’s recommendations. While reaping the athletic benefits of her nutritional education, Emma’s family also became more invested in nutrition from the perspective of learning how to support her brother’s newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetes.

For an adolescent beginning to consider her future, an occupation bridging the gap between nutrition and sports left an impression on Emma. Combining science, empathy and her passion to enhance athletic performance and health, she now cares for patients at Texas Children’s as senior clinical dietitian in our sports medicine department.

Bridging the gap

As Emma’s own experiences indicate, athletes expend so much energy in training and competition that it can often be difficult to eat or fuel well enough to meet the demands of their sport. If athletes can meet their energy and hydration needs, follow a nutrient-dense eating pattern and fuel appropriately around training and competition, they not only perform significantly better but also prevent injuries and promote long-term health.

Emma works mainly with adolescent athletes, a group typically active in multiple sports and undergoing crucial growth and development physically, mentally and socially.

One of her success stories involves a highly competitive young athlete who initially had a negative relationship with food. Through consistent guidance and support, the athlete transformed her approach to nutrition, leading to significant improvements in health and performance.

“The symptoms of underfueling went away, her relationship with food improved, and she began winning competitions more frequently, eventually gaining national recognition in her sport,” Emma shares. For her, helping young athletes excel in their sport while maintaining a balanced approach to nutrition is the most rewarding part of her job.

“I try to help them create a resilient relationship with food and exercise that will help shape their ongoing attitudes and beliefs about nutrition.”

Education and collaboration

No two days in our sports medicine department are the same for Emma.

“Some days, I see patients individually for sports nutrition assessments and counseling; other days, I provide coverage for our sports medicine providers if they have a patient who would benefit from sports nutrition counseling,” Emma explained.

With an understanding of the physiological demands of various sports, Emma enjoys educating a diverse group of young athletes on how to fuel better for their sport. In between patients, you can find Emma working on educational projects and lectures or consulting with patients in our preventative cardiology clinic.

“One of the many things I love about Texas Children’s is our interdisciplinary collaboration,” said Emma, who works closely daily with our team of physicians, athletic trainers and physical therapists to provide comprehensive care for the young athletes who come to us.

By integrating her personal experience and professional expertise, Emma exemplifies The Difference we provide at Texas Children’s. Her dedication ensures our young athletes not only achieve their peak performance but also maintain their health and well-being, setting them up for a lifetime of success.