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It’s late. The hangries (hungry + angry) have taken over. And “WHAT’S FOR DINNER!!?” has become the phrase that pains. What will you feed your exhausted athletes who have just arrived home from a grueling 3 hour practice? WINforum to the rescue!
Here at WINforum we are not only experts in sport nutrition but we are also moms and dads, and WE GET IT. So, we gathered our best tips for creating tasty, fast, nutritious meals that will fuel young athletes without breaking the bank.
Nutrition Tip 1: For Athletes, Eating Late at Night Doesn’t Make you Fat.
Don’t believe the hype, eating late at night is okay. There, I said it. No matter the time, athletes need to eat a real meal after a practice or game and maybe even a snack before bed – don’t worry, it won’t make them fat. Whether it is 7pm or 10pm, athletes need to refuel post exercise to repair and rebuild broken down muscles and replenish their fuel tank. The hype, we “shouldn’t eat late at night” or “shouldn’t eat before bed” may be helpful if we are doing what I call recreational eating (eating because you are bored or procrastinating) but for athletes with late practices skipping a meal could lead to decreased performance and increased exhaustion the next day.
Nutrition Tip 2: Eat a Healthy Snack at the Field or in The Car.
By now, we all know eating within 30 minutes of practice is key to refueling muscles and maintaining high levels of energy throughout the week. But, did you know that having a small snack immediately after practice (especially a late night practice) also clinically reduces the amount of arguing that goes on when overly-hungry athletes enter a home?
The best ratio of carbs to protein post practice is 3g of carbohydrate: 1 g of protein. Foods like shelf-stable chocolate milk, yogurt, energy bars, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, jerky and fruit and even cheese sticks and crackers all work great!
Nutrition Tip 3: Do a Little Healthy Meal Planning.
Whether you’re going to be eating late at night or not, it helps to be organized. Have a simple chart with ideas for healthy meals each night of the week. This healthy meal plan does not have to be set in stone but can act as a guide to help with grocery shopping and repurposing leftovers. There are plenty of online sites for recipe organization, menu planning and grocery shopping – check out our favorites
Tip 4: Plan a Protein That Can be Repurposed.
For example, a rotisserie chicken can be used the first night served with potatoes and broccoli, and the second night in enchiladas.
Tip 5: Make G.V.P. Meals
Make meals that contain whole Grains, Vegetables and a Protein source. Keep it simple and cook extra to be used as tomorrow’s lunch or reused as part of your next dinner.
Sports Nutrition Pro Tip: Freeze foods like yogurt and cheese ahead of time. That way they are ready to eat by the time your late night practice or game is over.
Tip 6: Frozen Veggies are GREAT.
Save money and time by using frozen veggies. Often frozen veggies contain more nutrients than fresh, unless purchased in season from a local market. Steam or sauté for maximum nutrition.
Tip 7: Use WINforum’s Pinterest Boards for Your Healthy Late Night Meal Ideas
Having a hard time coming up with new ideas for dinner? Find our favorite easy to make healthy recipes all in one place – Visit us on Pinterest here.
TIP 8: Fast Food is Better than No Food
If you are in a late night bind, you can utilize fast food as a post-game or post-practice meal. Use the WINforum guide to fast food to help assist in making the best refueling choices. Opt for milk and water as your beverages and don’t forget to order a side of steamed veggies or a salad to add nutrients.
Tip 9: Remember to Enjoy Your Late Night Meal.
Even when eating late at night, slow down and take a moment to reflect on the day. Play a round of “high/low” (everyone shares their high point and low point of their day) and congratulate yourselves for making it through another day of being an athlete or the parent of one. Eat slowly and allow your body to become satisfied, not necessarily full.