As the final weeks of summer approach and you begin to get back in the routine of school, practice, games, and homework, maintaining the drive and finding the time to train can get tough.
You won’t have the free time you once had a few months ago, and you won’t get nearly as many hours of shut-eye as you were when you could sleep until noon. But you’re still expected to keep in shape for your sport.
DON’T PANIC! This is where we come in — we came up with five tips to help you stick to a workout and nutrition plan as school returns.
- Continue To Eat Breakfast: No matter how early you have to get up to get a nice meal before your workout or class, get it done! Without breakfast in you, you are missing out on the energy you need to help push you through your classes and practices. If needed, prep the meal the night before to save you time.
- Pack A Lunch And Skip The Cafeteria Food: Many schools still serve pre-made, processed foods. This is the cheaper route for them to go, but in turn, you’re getting lunch that isn’t fresh and may be high in sodium, sugar, and fat. The safest route to go is to pack a lunch the night before that you can fill with proteins, fruits, and vegetables. These foods will not only help you perform well in class, but they will also give you the needed energy for practice or workouts. Click here to learn about what foods you should eat every day.
- Take Advantage Of Your Weekends: Your weekend is when you can catch up on rest, but it’s also when you’re able to spend more time in the gym. Sleep in all you want, but don’t forget to get some running or lifting in when you aren’t busy with class and homework.
- Work Out Before School: With homework, tests, practice, and a social life, finding time to get in a solid workout can be really tough. Instead of going to a busy gym, worn out after a long day of class, beat the rush and work out before school. Getting your training done in the morning will also make you feel better during the day.
- Get A Good Night Sleep When Possible: With practices running late, homework, studying, and even possibly a part-time job, it can be tough to get to bed at a decent hour as a student athlete. After you’re finished with your obligations for the night, your best bet is staying off of electronics, which can keep your attention for hours.
Not only will you feel better on a daily basis if you can follow these tips, but your overall health and strength will benefit as well. If you put your time in over the summer, training and focusing on your health, why give up now?
Ever give a second thought to throwing away the skin of your orange, the peel of your banana, or the rind of your watermelon?
If your answer was no, you put yourself in a category with millions of others around the world who dispose of peels and rinds from fruit and vegetables because they think they are inedible or don’t taste good.
What you don’t know, however, is that these peels and rinds you are throwing in the garbage are actually full of fiber and packed with nutrients like vitamin C.
Banana peels, carrot skin, citrus fruit peels, kiwi skin, even those hard watermelon rinds, and many others can all be consumed in some way. In order to help you get these extra nutrients, we took the time to break down some interesting ways that you can eat these less than appealing foods courtesy of our friends at Stack.com:
- Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruits, limes) – These peels contain twice the vitamin C of the actual fruit itself — and also contain large amounts of calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
How to eat them: Since these peels can be very bitter and tough to chew and digest, consider grating the peel to create zest for the top of a salad with dressing, or even for the top of sweets like ice cream or chocolate.
- Kiwis – The skin offers flavonoids, antioxidants, and — of course — a large amount of vitamin C.
How to eat them: This one is simple. Instead of taking the time to spoon out the fruit from the skin, scrape off the fuzz from the outside and simply eat the juicy fruit like you would a peach.
- Carrots – A carrot offers a variety of nutrients within the orange rough skin that is usually peeled and thrown away.
How to eat them: All you need to do to safely eat the whole, unpeeled carrot is cleanse it carefully with water to remove dirt or other imperfections. The flavor of the vegetable should remain the same.
- Watermelons – Watermelons contain something known as citrulline, which has an amino acid that is beneficial for heart health, your immune system, and much more. But, surprising to many, the rind contains much more of the rare amino acid.
How to eat them: This one may be the toughest of all because it can sound extremely unappetizing to the ear. However, you can do a lot with this rind. You can pickle it, sauté it, or — one of our favorites — throw it in a blender with the rest of the watermelon and other fruits and veggies to make a delicious smoothie.
- Bananas – Proportional to the commonly consumed part of a banana, the peel seems to be one of the biggest wastes in the world of fruit. However, this peel is extremely nutritious — as it has powerful antioxidants and an amino acid known as tryptophan that increases your body’s levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can boost your mood.
How to eat them: When it comes to banana peel preparation, variety’s the name of the game. Boil the peel, cook it in a frying pan, bake pieces of it into dried-out chips, or just throw the entire fruit into a juicer.
We’ve all done it before.
You sat at your desk in class all day just waiting for the final bell to ring, dismissing you to your afterschool workout. You get into the gym and begin your training routine, and as you start to kick up the intensity your stomach begins growling.
You realize you last ate during your 11:30 lunch hour, and now you’re taking on your workout with an empty stomach.
Not only is your stomach growling, but you become weak, get distracted, and cause your body to break down muscle to give it energy, instead of building it. None of which are recipes for success in the weight room.
In order to give your body an opportunity for a good workout, it all starts with fueling properly. This means eating a small meal or snack 30 minutes to an hour before your physical activity.
One of the best pre-workout snacks you can have is the simple, classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an easily digestible and tasty treat with plenty of protein and calories to keep you fueled.
To go along with the classic PBJ, a number of other peanut butter sandwich creations can be made for pre-workout fuel as well. Here are three of our favorite recipes from our partner Stack.com:
Peanut Butter and Banana Waffle Taco
- 1 Special K frozen waffle
- 2 tbsp. natural peanut butter
- 1 medium banana
- 1 tsp. honey
- Toast the waffle to personal preference
- Spread peanut butter evenly over the waffle
- Place banana in waffle’s center
- Fold waffle in half with banana in center
Fat: 17.55 g
Carbohydrates: 51.67 g
Protein: 10.1 g
Peanut Butter and Apple Quesadilla
- 1 100% whole-wheat tortilla
- 2 tbsp. natural peanut butter
- 1 small apple
- 1 tsp. of honey
- Place a pan over medium heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray
- Spread peanut butter evenly over tortilla
- Slice apple into thin slices and divide evenly on half the tortilla
- Drizzle honey evenly over tortilla
- Fold tortilla in half
- Place tortilla on pan and grill until it starts to brown — flip over and repeat
Fat: 16.67 g
Carbohydrates: 54.67 g
Protein: 10.78 g
Peanut Butter and Banana Wrap
- 1 100% whole-wheat tortilla
- 2 tbsp. natural peanut butter
- 1 medium banana
- 1 tsp. honey
- Spread peanut butter evenly over the tortilla
- Drizzle honey evenly over the tortilla
- Place banana on tortilla’s edge
- Roll the tortilla with the banana until completely covered
Fat: 16.75 g
Carbohydrates: 56.21 g
Protein: 11.46 g
Although peanut butter is a great pre-workout snack, we know some may not enjoy it and others may be allergic. Other options like a small bowl of healthy cereal, yogurt, dried fruit, oatmeal, or even a fruit smoothie are also easily digestible foods that won’t upset your stomach, and can give you the needed protein.
So next week while working on homework in your afternoon study hall, take a few minutes to refuel before your workout with a healthy and protein-packed snack!
You hear it all the time — getting into shape and staying in shape requires more than just working out, it requires sustaining a healthy and balanced diet.
It may sounds easy, but for most young athletes accomplishing the task of eating healthy is extremely tough. Jackie Barcal, Head of Nutrition at IMG Academy, has worked with a number of athletes through her years and knows what a good diet looks like inside and out. In order to help get you on track with your diet, we spoke with Barcal to find out more.
TT: Trent Tetzlaff, Training Writer.
JB: Jackie Barcal, Head of Nutrition at IMG Academy.
TT: Could you explain how important proper nutrition is for a young athlete?
JB: “Unlike adult athletes who have finished growing, elite youth athletes are unique in that their bodies are still growing and developing. It is during this age in which bone remodeling and growth are occurring at an incredibly fast rate so it’s important they consume enough overall calories and the right nutrients from food, such as vitamin D and calcium, to support this process. Although many athletes don’t tend to value good nutrition until later on in life, it’s important the young athlete, especially at the high school level, learns the value of nutrition to support not only their performance, but long-term athlete development. With more collegiate and professional teams hiring sports dietitians, I have noticed that many athletes are looking to nutrition to assist them in reaching their athletic potential and that message is starting to trickle down to the youth population.”
TT: What are some of the best snack or meals for pre-game or pre-race?
JB: “We like tell our athletes, ‘Nothing new on game day’. This means making sure to eat foods you are used to eating to help avoid digestive issues before or during competition. This also means practicing this ahead of time, so you know what foods sit well in your stomach. Ideally your pre-game meal will occur about 3-4 hours before competition so your body has enough time to digest the food.”
“It is recommended that about a third to a half of your plate is carbs, that you choose lean protein, and include fruit and vegetables. The key is to make sure your meal is low in fat and fiber because they slow digestion. An athlete who eats a high fat, high protein, or high fiber meal too close to competition may experience an upset stomach because the body will still be working to digest that food.
“Good pre-game meals might be: 1) grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, and cooked vegetables, 2) grilled shrimp, brown rice with pineapple, and green beans or 3) eggs, chicken or turkey sausage, since that will be leaner than pork, with whole grain toast and avocado or fruit on the side.”
TT: What are some of the best snacks or meals for post-game or post-race?
JB: “I have found that after games many athletes don’t feel like eating. Physical activity can sometimes suppress hunger, so in that case I would recommend doing something like a fruit smoothie with protein powder to support muscle recovery. The main components of a post-game meal or snack include carbohydrates, protein, and fluid.”
“At IMG we have what are called the three R’s of recovery: refuel, rebuild, and rehydrate. The athlete should refuel with carbs, rebuild with protein, and rehydrate with fluids. An athlete could drink something like a fruit smoothie with 15-20g of protein, or eat something like a turkey sandwich with pretzels and a glass of milk and fruit, or have 6-8 oz. of Greek yogurt topped with granola. Other options might be protein shakes or protein bars which are portable items the athlete can keep in their sport bag.”
TT: For an athlete looking to get stronger, are daily protein shakes after workouts a good addition to a diet?
JB: “I think protein shakes after a workout can be a good addition for an athlete. A lot of research has shown that within that first 45-60 minutes after a workout the muscles are more sensitive to protein and carbohydrates — so getting a protein and carb combo after a workout can be really beneficial Something good about these shakes is they get digested and absorbed into muscles rapidly, so if the athlete has two training sessions or games in a day it can help speed up that recovery process.”
TT: How can you go about adding or cutting weight for your sport effectively?
JB: “In either case, adding or cutting weight, athletes really need to do it slowly over a period of time. Unfortunately, youth athletes aren’t always the best at thinking ahead. But coaches and parents can help them make small adjustments and encourage healthy behaviors that assist them reach their goals over time. Most athletes I’ve worked with who want to lose or gain weight quickly don’t realize that it takes time for your body to adjust to training and competing at that new weight. This is another reason slow losses and gains are important. A good rule of thumb is 1-2 pounds per week on average of either weight loss or gain. Assuming the athlete is training and using appropriate nutritional strategies, at this rate any added weight is likely a reflection of lean muscle gain, as opposed to fat, and any weight loss is likely reflecting a loss in fat, instead of lean muscle. Some athletes, who look to lose weight too quickly, decrease calories so much that they compromise lean muscle and their athletic performance. At times, when an athlete comes to me wanting to lose weight, we may actually increase calories around training to assist in improving energy levels. If their energy is up, odds are they will be able to train harder, and in the long run burn more calories throughout the day because they got more out of their training session.”
TT: What are some of the best diets a young athlete can easily stick to?
JB: “At this age, it’s important for athletes to focus on getting a variety of foods in their diet to help ensure they are meeting their nutrient needs. There seems to be a trend of cutting out certain food groups, like whole grains and dairy, but there are key vitamins and minerals in these foods that can be beneficial for health and performance. In my experience, when athletes build their plate, a lot of white, brown, and yellow colored foods are present. I encourage our athletes here at IMG to get at least 3-4 different and brightly colored foods on their plate at each meal. This gives the athlete a simple goal and often results in a much more balanced and healthier plate.
It’s important to remember that youth athletes are still going to want to eat things like fried food, candy, and soda that aren’t the best for their health or their performance, but that there is also a time and a place for these types of treats. It’s really about finding a balance and finding a time, preferably away from training and competition, when these foods can be incorporated into the athlete’s diet without sacrificing performance.
Lastly, but maybe the most important, an athlete should be fueling on a consistent basis. An athlete could be eating all of the right foods, lean protein, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit, but if they are skipping meals and snacks, they likely aren’t meeting their overall energy or nutrient needs. Youth athletes should aim to fuel their bodies every 3-4 hours. Typically, this breaks down to 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day. This will help the athlete fuel their mind and body for optimal performance both on the field and in the classroom.