Maximize Your Students’ Athletic Performance and Recovery with Meals and Snacks that Make Sense!
Start the Day Strong with Breakfast
Food is fuel. The body needs protein, carbohydrates, and fat at every meal. Most food contains a combination of each of these nutrients. Whole grain cereal and milk (dairy, soy, or almond) contribute carbs and protein with the right amount of fat. Protein is important for building muscle. Good sources of animal protein include eggs, turkey bacon, and dairy products. Vegetarian sources include tofu and nuts (PB and jelly anyone?)
Carbohydrate Fuels Muscle Cells
Carbohydrates, stored in the body in the form of glycogen, power muscles during exercise and replenish the liver after physical activity. Maximize glycogen reserves during meal time with complex carbohydrates such as whole grain rice, potatoes, quinoa, potato, corn, sweet potato, and legumes (baked beans anyone?)
High carb snacks include yogurt, whole-grain bagels with peanut butter, fruit or juice, energy bars, and trail mix (nuts, dried fruit, seeds and maybe some dark chocolate chips). Lean meat combined with vegetables and a starchy side dish (potato, rice or whole grain) balance out the dinner.
What you drink is as important as what you eat. Staying well hydrated is essential for sustaining optimal energy levels, as well as preventing muscle cramping and maintaining a safe core body temperature. Yogurt, soup, smoothies, fresh vegetables, and fruits (especially watermelon) all have a high fluid content. Drink plenty of water and stay away from drinks that have heavy amounts of sugar or other forms of sweeteners.
Food is Fuel
Athletes should eat throughout the day to maintain high energy levels. It is recommended to have a healthy meal or snack every three to four hours and avoid long stretches of time without eating.
Submitted by Leslie Kay-Getzinger, MS RD
Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services Company