Getting up early, having busy schedules with a full day of classes at school, and/or any other extracurricular activities after school can make it tough for athletes to stay on top of their nutrition. Here are 4 nutrition hacks to salvage your eating and stay on track with making the progress outside of the training floor:
1) PREPARE AHEAD. This one should be a no-brainer, but most people donʼt take the time to set themselves up for success. Prepare your meals and snacks the night before and leave them in the ʻfridge. This can include your breakfast for the next morning, lunch for the next day (if you do not buy lunch at school), 1-2 shakes, water, and snacks for the next day at school.
2) EAT BREAKFAST. I would argue that youth athletes are in the minority (not many) when it comes to eating a real, solid breakfast. An airplane doesnʼt make itʼs next flight until the fuel is filled up to 100% or you (or your parents) donʼt drive your car when itʼs on Empty, so why should your body run on empty to start your day??? Start your day on a proper note an eat a full breakfast to get going. Ex: 1) Oatmeal + blue berries + protein powder + peanut or almond butter (barring any nut allergies) OR 2) 3-4 eggs + 1-2 cups of mixed fruit (bananas, strawberries, apple slices, etc) + 2 slices of toast with avocado or butter.
3) EAT FREQUENTLY. This pertains more to athletes that struggle to gain weight. We should go no more than 2-3 hours at a time without consuming some sort of food. Most schools use block scheduling now - approximately 4 lengthy periods throughout the day vs. the older model of schedules (that some schools still use) with 8-10 shorter periods during the day. SOLUTION: eat something half way through a “block period” and/or after a block period OR eat something after every 1-2 periods in the older scheduling. If teachers donʼt allow food in their classes, eat in between periods when walking to your next class OR go to the bathroom and crush a snack. Donʼt look for ways to get it done, FIND ways to get it done!
4) TRACK YOUR FOOD. The reason every athlete that comes to TNL goes through an initial assessment is so that I do not have to “guess” what is going to benefit an individual. As they say “If youʼre not assessing, then youʼre guessing.” I canʼt tell you how many times Iʼve heard athletes say, “I donʼt know why Iʼm not gaining weight!.....I eat SOOOO much.” In reality youʼre not eating ENOUGH. Start to take write down/log EVERYTHING that you eat on a daily basis and youʼll begin to grasp what youʼre actually eating. When that gets easy or you want to use more advanced ways to track nutrition, use an app. In my opinion, the best app is “MyFitnessPal by Under Armour”. It even allows you to scan barcodes and choose serving sizes!! It also asks you to put in your body size (height & weight) and what your goal is, whether it be gaining or losing weight.