Going back to school can be a stressful time and you might not feel like you have time to eat. However, you are still an athlete and fueling for school is so important! You have increased needs that require fueling more often than others. As a result, you often need to eat frequently throughout the day to meet those needs.
In this blog I will go through what proper fueling is for athletes and what a good fueling schedule looks like for those who feel like they may not have the time.
Why is Fueling Important?
You may notice that when school starts you are more tired or less productive during your time. Did you know it could be because you’re eating less and not meeting your needs? Some athletes may not want to eat in class or just forget to, but eating every 3-4 hours will ensure that you never hit that wall of tiredness in the middle of the day.
When your body is adequately fueled you will notice your focus is better, you are able to train harder and you don’t need to reach for a caffeine source to get you through the day. When you aren’t eating enough, you will see the opposite. Here are the consequences you may see from underfueling.
Consequences of Underfueling
When you underfuel, you might just feel off and not yourself. Some athletes are so used to underfueling, they barely notice that they are sluggish and have a hard time making it through the day because that is their normal. I hate to break it to you, but that isn’t normal! If you are frequently experiencing these symptoms, it may be due to underfueling.
- Absence of menstrual cycle
- Lack of concentration
There are many other things that can show you are underfueling and it is dependent on each individual athlete. Adding in snacks throughout your day can help keep you energized and keep up with your busy schedule.
How Often Should I Be Eating?
Now that you see you might be feeling some of these symptoms, you might wonder how often you should eat? The golden rule for this is every 2-5 hours and the longer you go, the larger the meal/snack needs to be.
This can mean that you have a snack every 2 hours or you have a meal every 4-5. This means eating in between or in classes. Having snacks handy that you can take with you can make it easy to make sure you stay full for long periods of time and you aren’t dragging your feet by the end of the day.
Example Fueling Schedule
Here is an example school day and how you can fuel before, during and after. For most of your days, I recommend using the Performance Plate Method to build your meals.
7:00 AM: Wake Up, Breakfast (Practice Day Plate)
Greek yogurt parfait with berries, walnuts and granola
8:30 AM: School
9:30 AM: Morning Snack
Apple slices and Greek Yogurt Dip
12:30 PM: Lunch (Practice Day)
Sandwich with turkey, lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Side of carrots and hummus
3:00 PM: Pre-Practice Snack
Banana and chewy bar
4:00 PM: Training
6:30 PM: Dinner (Practice Day Plate)
Burrito bowl: chicken, rice, fajita veggies, beans, and guacamole
9:00 PM: Bedtime Snack and Recovery
Cherry juice and beef jerky
10:00 PM: Bed
Going back to school can be stressful and it’s important to find the time to eat meals and snacks. You are using more brain (school) and body (training) power during these times so it is even more important that you are fueling adequately.
Making sure that you aren’t underfueling will help your performance, mood, and decrease your risk for injury. Following a schedule of eating every 2-5 hours can be helpful in staying full and having enough intake throughout the day.
If you struggle with finding the time to eat within your busy schedule and fueling for school, I encourage you to sign up for the Performance Fueling Club (PFC). PFC is an online sports nutrition coaching program that helps athletes with flexible on-demand content and live nutrition coaching with a sports dietitian.
We currently have open enrollment, and I would love to help support you in getting to your goals!