Fueling the body for practice is so important for an athlete. If under-fueled, you aren’t providing your body with the energy & nutrients it needs to perform at its best. This causes your performance to decrease and your risk of injury increases. On the flip side, if you are adequately fueled, you can practice harder — and be that much better, faster! Here are some tips to help you (or your young athlete) fuel throughout the school day to avoid entering a practice under-fueled…
1.Don’t depend on your lunch break alone to fuel you for an afternoon practice.
Having a well balanced lunch is an important step in fueling for practice, but we can’t depend on that alone, especially if lunch is in the 11AM-12PM time frame and practice may not be until 4:00PM. A well-fueled athlete fuels frequently throughout the day — not just breakfast, lunch & dinner.
2. Don’t let the school “rules” get you down.
Often times at school, there are “no food/drink” rules in the classroom. Does that mean we ignore the need to fuel & hydrate? Absolutely not. Bringing snacks in your backpack that are quick and easy gives you the opportunity to fuel in between classes. Granola bars, protein bars, trail mix, and PBJ sandwiches are all go-to options for a lot of young athletes!
3. Make sure you’re including carbohydrates at lunch AND your pre-practice snack.
Those carbohydrates are what your body will use as fuel while you practice! If your snack consists of protein alone, you’re missing out on a chance to “top off the fuel tank” before practice and may find yourself running on “E” before practice is over.
4. Don’t skip breakfast!
Breakfast is so far ahead of practice so what does it matter? If we don’t fuel first thing in the morning, our body is playing “catch up” through the afternoon — not optimal for a well-fueled practice. Plus, how hard is it to focus at school if you’re hungry??
5. Plan ahead.
Don’t find yourself searching for a pre-practice snack 10 minutes before you need to head to practice. Your options are going to be quite limited — maybe even limited to what you can find at a vending machine, which is typically not the greatest fuel option for an athlete. Just like we pack lunches, we need to pack snacks! Make time for this at the beginning of your day or get a head start and pack the night before so you won’t be in a rush in the morning.
Check out Lauren’s back to school Trader Joe’s list for snack ideas here.