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3 Easy Ways to Meal Prep for Youth Athletes

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3 Easy Ways to Meal Prep for Youth Athletes

Nutrition is one of the key pillars in overall fitness, along with sleep and training. For many people, it isn't until you are in your early adulthood until you learn the importance of consistently eating enough of the right foods to help you achieve your goals. Whether it's to put on muscle or lose weight, it's the consistency over an extended period of time that achieve your goals, not any one good day or eating.

This importance in nutrition is only amplified in adolescent years when you have to take into account naturally growing bodies, school, sporting commitments and strength training. Imagine all the progress and improvement you're missing out on by neglecting the nutrition side of your fitness.

School lunches are always a tricky battle for parents, with news that their child hasn't eaten their lunch or just ended up buying something from the canteen. In many instances it is easier to give them food that tastes good and is easy to prepare or just leave in their lunch box for the next day. But if you give some responsibility to your child in preparing their own lunches and educate them on the effects of poor nutrition on their sporting goals, this will serve them in the long term. Along with teaching them to take in all factors into account when striving for their goal.

Here's 3 easy ways to meal prep for school lunches:

  • Using leftovers - cooking extra at dinner and placing it in a container to take to school is an easy way to not stress about school lunches in the morning. Eating some, beg and carbohydrates for lunch is a much better option than a Nutella sandwich and chips.
  • Increasing calories by 15-20% a couple of days before competition - if you know you have a competition on the weekend, then eating more calories two days prior is a good way to ensure you are adequately fuelled. The longer the competition (eg: swim competition over 3 days), the longer you should eat at the increased calories. You can either do this by giving them more snacks in their school lunches or another meal at home.
  • Convenient options - using instant rice with canned tuna, quick oat packets, or ready-made meals (eg: My Muscle Chef) are easy, cheap options to get proper meals in over snacking all the time.

An example of how this worked with one of our swimming/lifesaving athletes. They were training 12+ hours a week on top of school and beginning to fell burnt out. To increase their overall calories, we got them eating pancakes and ice cream at night as an easy way to absorb more calories before bedtime. The increase in food and calories created a boost in energy, when then allowed for greater effort to be placed in all forms of training and not having to preference one over the other. This resulted in better performances during competitions.

For more information on strength and conditioning for youth athletes and increasing your sports performance, check out our website and podcast (also available on Spotify and YouTube!).

Matt Hucul
Strength and Conditioning Coach
Inner Athlete - Bayside's premium strength and conditioning coaching for youth athletes

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