What Should Student Athletes Be Eating (and Drinking)?
Student athletes are busy people. Between classes, homework, socializing, and extracurricular activities, it’s easy for eating well to fall through the cracks. But good nutrition is even more important to athletes than it is to the average Joe. Getting the right kind of fuel is crucial for sustaining energy, building muscle, and achieving peak performance. Here are some tips for ensuring your student athlete gets the nutrition he or she needs throughout the day.
A lot of teens who have to get up at the crack of dawn get into the habit of skipping breakfast, but that’s like beginning the race a few yards behind the starting line. For time-pressed kids, portable breakfasts can help start the day off right. Stock the kitchen with fruit, hard-boiled eggs, Greek yogurt (which has more protein than regular yogurt), and Complete by Juice Plus+ nutrition bars, so they can grab something and go. Or pre-make these protein-boosted breakfast popsicles, so you’ll have them on hand for tight mornings.
If you have a little more time, consider making whole grain (or grainless) protein pancakes by adding Complete by Juice Plus+ shake mix to your batter. (Just use Complete by Juice Plus+ Vanilla Shake Mix as the protein powder in any protein pancake recipe you choose.) You can also up the nutritional value of your oatmeal by sneaking in some Complete by Juice Plus+ by following this simple recipe. In addition to protein, this shake mix also provides fiber, vitamins, minerals, and whole-food based nutrition from fruits and vegetables.
An ideal pre-practice snack will be substantial enough to provide energy but light enough to digest easily. What your student athlete should eat depends on how much time he or she has before practice. Less than an hour? Go super-simple, with fresh fruits or vegetables—an orange, a handful of blueberries, carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes. An hour or more? Choose something a little more hearty, like a yogurt and fruit parfait, a rice cake with cream cheese, or a Complete by Juice Plus+ nutrition bar.
Post-Practice Meals or Snacks
After exercising, the body needs complex carbohydrates to replenish its energy stores and protein to help muscle recovery. Trail mix with dried fruit and nuts or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-grain or grainless bread are good choices. You can also try one of these recovery smoothies featuring Complete by Juice Plus+. If it’s dinnertime right after practice, prepare a meal of lean protein, whole grains, and vegetables. A stir-fry with chicken or tofu, plus a hefty serving of vegetables on brown rice would be perfect.
Staying hydrated is important for athletes of all ages because they lose water through increased sweating. Athletes should drink before and after practice. Taking a few swigs from their water bottle whenever there is a break will help keep athletes hydrated throughout their game. That goes double if they’re exercising in the heat. It can be easy to forget when you’re surrounded by water, but swimmers are sweating and need to hydrate, too! Water is the best beverage for hydration. Try to discourage over-sweetened sports drinks marketed to teens if you can.
Foods can also hydrate. When your student athlete gets home, try offering a Complete smoothie, a cup of soup, or a snack that includes cucumber slices, watermelon cubes, or grapes.