A routine change can make goals harder to achieve. Although it's easy to get off track when a season ends, a more difficult transition for many athletes is getting back into a season and allowing their nutrition to keep up with them. (See The 8 Most Common Healthy Eating Mistakes.) Here are the biggest nutrition mistakes athletes make when transitioning into a competitive season.
Although it is extremely important to make sure you are fueling properly for practices, games and races, sometimes the intensity of the season causes you to be more lenient with your food intake. For example, today I ran 10 miles in preparation for a half marathon, and I feel like it doesn't matter what I eat afterwards. Not true. I may need an extra snack or a larger portion at dinner, but I should not use my training as an excuse to overeat or to eat junk. Neither should you. (See Overeating: Why We Do It and How to Stop.)
Since practice is usually scheduled immediately after school, it's important to remember to bring a snack to get you through. A small carbohydrate and protein snack pre-workout will allow you to have an excellent practice and feel better when you are finished.
Just like the pre-workout snack can be helpful, the 45-minute window following a workout is key fueling time for proper recovery. Slacking on getting some nutrition then can lead to muscle soreness, fatigue and even injury. Make sure to have fuel with you for when you are done with your workout to help with muscle building and to replenish your energy stores. (See Eating to Reduce Post-Workout Soreness.)
You need to stay hydrated not only during training or games, but also all day every day, especially in-season. Sometimes it can be difficult to double or triple your water intake, but start slow and work your way up. (If you do not love water, here are some healthy alternatives.)
When you're in-season, your time is not always your own. Your schedule is filled with games, practices and team meetings. You need to take advantage of your free time to ensure healthy fueling during the week. Make sure to have pantry staples on hand, and do some kitchen prep on weekends to prepare for a healthy week!
Don't buy into the hype of athletic fuel marketing with various supplements, protein drinks, and energy gels. They will not make you a better athlete. Whole foods are your best fuel. Don't ever try something new without consulting with a health professional, and don't tamper with your fueling plan on game day or race day. Stick to what you know.