Students’ schedules are so busy, they may not think twice about oversleeping and skipping breakfast or socializing more than eating during lunch. However, studies show that eating three well-balanced meals a day and one or two snacks boosts everything from academic to athletic performance. As parents and coaches, we must take a proactive approach to providing students with the hydration and nutrition they require to thrive.
Daily Hydration Increases for Athletes
The average high school student should consume around 64 ounces of hydrating fluids each day, spread throughout the day. However, athletes sweat and will need to kick their fluid intake up a notch — especially in the warmer spring and summer months. Encourage your kids to keep a refillable water bottle with them at all times, and bring additional bottled beverages with them on game day. While a small amount of sports drinks are okay, most of their daily hydration should come from water. If not plain water, fruit-infused water or sugar-free herbal tea. Coaches must keep water or sports drinks readily available during practice and games. Most importantly, hydrate several hours before a game to avoid dehydration, and drink at least 8 ounces of fluid every hour during physical activity.
A Well-Balanced Meal
Make mealtime as easy as possible for busy student athletes. We encourage keeping processed foods to a minimum and stocking up on healthy grab-and-go options. Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, yogurt, cheese, healthy microwaveable meals, premade smoothies and nutritious foods your kids enjoy. If possible, pack their lunch so you can ensure they eat a balanced mix of protein, produce, carbs and healthy fats. Don’t forget to pack a snack they can eat between school and sports. Nuts and dried fruit or a protein bar are perfect. Also, keep shelf-stable snacks in the car or in your purse or bag to encourage a protein and carb balanced snack within 30 minutes of athletic activity.
Maintain Healthy Eating Year-Round
Even if your student only performs spring sports, it is essential to maintain a healthy approach to nutrition year-round. This will make it easier to stick to a routine during the athletic season. Depending on your athlete’s sport of choice, they may also need to significantly increase their caloric intake during the athletic season. Consider working with a dietician or nutritionist to assess your child’s individual dietary needs.
Make Food Fun
Food is fuel, but food is also delicious! Find flavorful and healthy foods everyone in your family enjoys. Also, get together to cook and bake as often as you can. Strike a balance between splurging on less than healthy foods, treats and nutritious meals. Aim for somewhere in the 90 percent healthy and 10 percent splurge range. That leaves plenty of room for everyone’s guilty pleasures.
To support balanced athletic nutrition, your Competitive Edge instructor will also give you tips about pre- and post-athletic nutrition. After all, supporting student athletes takes a team approach. Come team up with us at Competitive Edge today!
Competitive Edge aims to develop the “complete athlete” using performance sports training in Woodbridge, VA and surrounding areas. Members are able to enhance their athletic performance and develop a competitive edge to excel in their desired sport.