Eat, Compete, Win: 5 Nutrition Tips for Student-Athletes

Being a student-athlete isn’t the easiest thing, considering the amount of training they have to do on top of other school responsibilities. Student-athletes have to live through demanding sports and academic schedules. 

To stay in tip-top shape, student-athletes must learn to build healthy habits. Things like sticking to a schedule, keeping hydrated, eating the right food, and being smart about the supplements they take are just a couple of examples. 

Below are five nutrition tips for student-athletes to help them better manage their responsibilities.

Try to stick to a schedule. 

The secret to staying productive and on top of both your academic and training goals is to stick to a schedule. One that can accommodate every single one of your responsibilities e.g., homework, school activities, training, and drills. Time your breaks as well as your meals, so you can make the most out of your free time and not need to rush yourself to meet other obligations. Furthermore, make sure to also find space in your schedule for time with friends, family, or simply time alone to enjoy other hobbies and interests. Just because you’re a student-athlete doesn’t mean your schedule should be all work and now play.

Eat the right foods.

There’s more to being a student-athlete than just training and working out. It requires a great deal of discipline and determination as well. Eating the right foods is just one of the many responsibilities a student-athlete has to face when they choose to pursue a sport. That said, it’s important to make sure that you’re eating the right food groups, at the right time, and in the right quantities. You can consult with your physician or dietitian to find the best diet and meal plan for you. Your coach or trainer might also be able to help you out. 

Set actionable and measurable goals.

It’s normal to want the best for yourself and for your position as a student-athlete. However, when you’re initially thinking about goals, it’s important that you set SMART goals. The initials themselves stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. 

SMART goals help you stay on track with your goals and set you up for success. It requires you to think about your moves in detail and take action in a systematic way. 

Here’s how you can start creating your own SMART goals:

Specific

A specific goal is a statement of what you want to achieve exactly. For example, a non-specific goal would look like this “to earn money.” If you turned that into a specific goal, it would look like this “to earn money as a student-athlete by monetizing my name and likeness as an NFT.”

Measurable

SMART goals are measurable, meaning you can track your progress using specific criteria. When you’re able to measure your progress, you can effectively calculate your movements and adjust your efforts to optimize your process and reach your goals faster. 

Attainable

You can attain almost any goal you set your mind to. However, there is a limit to everyone’s capabilities. Making sure your goals are attainable and doable makes it much easier for you to achieve them. Not to say you shouldn’t challenge yourself. What this simply means is that you shouldn’t overwhelm yourself with overbearing expectations. 

Do things one step at a time. Don’t rush the process and instead enjoy it while it lasts. 

Realistic

For a  goal to be realistic, it must be something that you are willing and able to do. Again, it doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to what’s “easy.” However, be sure that your goal is something that will show substantial progress in the long run. 

Unrealistic goals can feel inspiring in the beginning. But once you’ve realized that it’s impossible or much more difficult to achieve at your level and expertise, it can discourage you from pursuing the goal any further. 

Timely

While it’s important to give yourself some elbow room to adjust to unexpected obstacles, goals should be grounded within a specific time frame. A deadline can create a sense of urgency in yourself that will push you to keep working at your goals until you reach them. 

Create a pre-game and post-game plan.

Giving your body the proper amount of nutrition before and after a game is important for every student-athlete. After intense physical activity, such as a game or a heavy training session, your body will most likely start to work to repair muscle tissue and regain energy levels. Eating the right food will help this process go much smoother and faster. As much as possible, try to refuel your body within an hour after a heavy workout. Focus on consuming both carbohydrates and proteins, which can help with the tissue repair process in your body. 

A couple of examples you can try are whole-grain bread, oatmeal, blueberries, eggs, greek yogurt, peanut butter or almond butter, and almonds or pistachios.

Be careful about snacks.

Instead of grabbing a big bag of potato chips and a soda, you should focus on eating healthier snack alternatives. Junk food can easily zap your body of its energy and make you feel weaker during practice. 

If you ever feel like snacking on anything, we highly recommend the following:

  • Vegetable or fruit smoothies
  • Trail mix
  • Fresh fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Pretzels
  • Granola

Stay away from high-sugar, high-sodium, and high-fat snacks. 

Image Source: Pexels.com