Back To School Sports Series – Fueling For Focused Learning In School

Fall sports are in full swing! ????

My son, Ayden is playing Fall Basketball with a Club and High School Football.

Ayden is a Sophomore in High School, and this is his first year ever playing football. He’s come home with bumps, bruises, scratches, and sore muscles, but he keeps going back for more. His goal is to come out of football stronger and more confident, which he’ll translate on the basketball court when the season starts for school.

He also has started in-person learning at school.  So that means we are back to food prepping on Sundays so he has the right foods to keep him focused.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve covered pre-workout and post-workout strategies. If you’ve missed those blogs, you can check them out here and here.

Okay, so your athlete has fueled for practice and eaten a recovery meal before school starts.

Now, we’ll switch gears and focus on best nutrition practices that will fuel your athlete with energy and focus for learning.

The main thing I look for in a meal or snack is protein. Protein keeps the energy fire burning.

Here’s an example of our High School’s Lunch Menu:

Ok, on the menu, I’ve boxed out the best lunch options. Hopefully, if your athlete eats at school, this will help them make the best choices to keep their energy and focus up during school.

As I said before, I’m always looking for meals that have the most protein. As you can see, I’m not even considering school breakfast. 

These options are high in fat and carbs, which will create low energy and a foggy brain. So if your school menu looks like ours, it’s best to pack a breakfast option for after early morning practice, if that’s when they practice.

I’ve been packing a protein shake, PB&J, and sports greens drink for after early morning practice. The school isn’t allowing the student to use a microwave, so whatever he eats will have to be cold.

For School Lunches, you’ll notice on Tuesday – the 15th, I have two meal options chosen.

I chose both because if the Italian Salad doesn’t have any protein in it, it could be an excellent option to add to the sandwich to get in extra veggies. If the salad does have a decent amount of protein, then it could be an either-or option.

For Thursday – the 17th, you’ll notice I chose the Popcorn Chicken Salad over the Rotini Pasta with Meat Sauce.

This is because meat sauces typically are more sauce than meat, again always looking for the “more protein” option. But if an athlete understands portions, then they can make the best choice for them when they see it in person.

Some of the chicken options are fried – it’s not ideal, but if this is what your athlete has to choose from and it has the most protein, then they have to make the most out of what they available to them. Also, balancing out their meals with a good amount of veggies helps keep their blood sugar in check.

The sandwich options paired up with potato chips or sweet potato fries – always go with the sweet potato fries; they contain more nutrients.

Ayden doesn’t like to eat at school much unless a food truck is involved ????????‍????. So we’ll be packing breakfast, lunch, and snacks over here.

He’s also a picky eater and tends to eat the same things most of the time. So his meals consist of a lot of chicken, pork chops, tacos here and there, rice or pasta, a salad, asparagus, or cut raw veggies, some fruit, and yogurt. Thank you expandable lunch boxes!

For balanced snack ideas –  I have a few posts on that; you can find them here and here.

Ok, so to wrap this up – if your athlete eats at school, print the menu and highlight the best choices. Pack snacks, if possible.

If you pack food for your athlete, always choose a whole protein like eggs, chicken, pork, beef, fish (if they’ll eat fish), or quality deli meat, and then pair it up with a starchy carb, veggies, and some healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, olives, nuts/seeds). Add in a store-bought protein shake for extra assurance and some snacks. This will ensure they have stable energy throughout the day!

Next week, we’ll cover pre-game/practice meals to ensure your athlete is fueled for a high energy performance!