Updated: Mar 3, 2020
1. Eat whole foods. Avoid processed foods.
Whole foods are choices like apples, turkey, oatmeal, and broccoli. Processed foods are choices like chips, cereals, cookies, and candy. Try your best to eat a variety of whole foods from each food group. You can absolutely have a treat once in a while, just don’t go overboard. I want you to think of food as fuel, the higher quality foods you eat the better you can perform in school and in your sport.
2. Hydrate throughout the day.
Pick out your favorite reusable water bottle and don’t lose it! Sipping on water all day will prevent dehydration, which is a recipe for poor performance. It is fine to rehydrate with a sports drink after a long practice, but be very selective of which one you pick. A few extra electrolytes are great but added processed sugars can be harmful. Sticking to regular water is usually the best way to hydrate.
3. Choose quality protein sources.
As a student-athlete, protein is an important macronutrient. It supports muscle growth and aids in recovery from workouts. The key is to pick the best sources, like chicken, eggs, turkey, beans, or nuts instead of fast food options or processed mystery meat. Try to include a protein source at each meal and snacks during the day. Both animal and plant sources are great.
4. Make sure you are eating enough. Don’t skip meals. Don’t overeat.
High school sports add an extra energy demand on your body. You do need to make sure you are eating a little extra when you are in your training season. Aim to include a little extra protein to support your growing muscles after practices and pack a healthy carb snack for before practice. This could be a granola bar before practice and some almonds for after practice. Always pick foods that you like, don’t force yourself to eat anything that you don’t like.
5. DO NOT count calories or obsess about the protein content.
Counting calories is an inaccurate science and is not recommended right now. Just focus on balanced meals and eating enough to fuel your workouts and feel full. Don’t worry about eating as much protein as possible. Picking scrambled eggs and fruit for breakfast is always better than sugary cereal, but eating a variety of foods is most important.
Bonus! You DO NOT need to purchase supplements, sports drinks, or protein powders.
You will get the nutrients you need from a balanced whole food diet and water. Most supplements, unless prescribed by your primary health care provider or Sports Dietitian, are a waste of money. I get this question a lot. If you really want to try a protein powder, choose a clean company. Maybe one from Thrive.com.
Happy snacking :)