Student athletes have a ton of responsibilities. School, practice, workouts, homework, part time jobs, social lives, etc. With all of this going on, it is easy for the one thing that will make a huge difference in all of these activities to get neglected. This one thing is to EAT!!!
We have found that the number one hindrance to many an athlete's performance is the lack of nutrition they take in on a daily basis. Many of our athletes will admit to not eating breakfast daily, having no morning snack and eating a small lunch by the time afternoon practice and/or workouts roll around. Then coaches expect them to have a good workout followed by a long practice. This is a lot to ask out of a young athlete if they do not have fuel in the tank to perform.
To most efficient way to monitor our athlete's nutrition is to have them track it, even if it just for a few weeks. This will give us a good snap shot as to what they are taking in and if there needs to be any adjustments. There are many different ways to track your athlete's nutrition, what we have our athletes use is the MyFitnessPal app they can download and use directly on their phone. Once we feel like they are doing a good job with that, we can begin to educate them on what to eat. Our hope is that our athletes will start taking personal responsibility to eat throughout the day so that they can perform at a high level during workouts, practice and games.
Tracking and education is important for an athlete to improve upon their personal nutrition. The food guide pyramid (pictured) is a great reference tool for athletes, parents and coaches to help educate their athletes on what types of foods to be eating. And lastly, below are some simple ways you can help your athlete begin improving their nutrition for better performance today...
Simple Tips to Improve Nutrition
Eat Breakfast - Does not have to be fancy, but getting something in the system first thing in the morning will set the table for a good productive day in the classroom.
Eat a Big Lunch - Whether it is a school lunch or a packed lunch, having a large meal here will give you calories to burn later in the day. Often times this is the last meal your kids will have before practice.
Pre Practice Snack - Having a snack 30-45 minutes prior to practice is a bonus for the day but can pay big dividends. Snacks such as peanut butter and jelly, protein bars or a Lenny and Larry's cookie can work here.
Drink Water - Athletes can never drink enough water. We encourage our kids to carry a water bottle with them and fill up at the water fountains every chance they get. Staying away from sodas and juices is also important here.