Should My Athlete Eat Dinner After Practice, Even If It’s Late?
Is Late Eating Healthy?
My college coach would say almost every day, “After Six it Sticks!” And we’ve all been taught this over the years that’s it’s not healthy to eat when it’s late.
But is eating late healthy for your athletes?
This might be true if you’re living a sedentary lifestyle, but it doesn’t work if you’re an athlete. Many of our young athletes practice 2-5 hours every night and some don’t get done until 8 or 9 at night.
The cells in the body are very receptive to receiving nutrients directly after workouts, and for a young athlete that has to recover and be ready for tomorrow’s practice, it is a necessity that they eat, even if it’s late.
Athletes have a timeframe of approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours to take advantage of this incredible window of opportunity when cells are most permeable to great nutrition. We have to maximize this time to get in great food.
Dinner should consist of the following items:
Our athletes definitely need protein after practice as this helps to repair and restore muscles. Protein examples are salmon, chicken, and there are many beans that could be used as well. Carbohydrates helps to restore energy levels in the cell. We want to make sure we use a more complex carbohydrate like a sweet potato that contains great carbs, but also contains other amazing nutrients. They also need fats in their diet. A great source of fats for dinner can be salmon, avocados, and even a olive oil based salad dressing. Fats should total about 20-25% of total dietary intake for athletes.
What If I Live More Than An Hour Away?
If you live over an hour away from where your athlete is practicing or competing, it might be necessary to pack a snack to make sure you take advantage of this time. A great snack would be a greek yogurt, peanut butter and banana sandwich, or almonds and chocolate chips. Then, when your athlete gets home, they can have their dinner.
Sleep Is An Active Time
Once your athlete goes to sleep, their body does not stop working. Their bodies are busy repairing their muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints that were beat up at practice. They also need that late dinner to help restore the energy that was lost during practice and begin to prepare those muscles for the next practice.
Tired And Not Hungry
My rule is this, even if your athlete had a hard practice and they’re exhuasted and not feeling hungry, they have to eat something. They don’t have to eat a ton, but they need to get some protein, carbohydrates, and fats into their bodies. They need this to make sure their fueled. They might only be able to handle a Greek yogurt or something simple, but they have to have something.
If you want to give your athlete the best possible, whole food nutrition, make sure you get started with Stay Fueled today. Just click on the “Get Started Today” button below and get amazing nutrition delivered to your inbox every Friday morning. All of the planning is done for you, all you have to do is shop and prepare, and your athlete has to eat. You’ll see amazing things from your whole family when you put a great plan in place!