Fuel for Athletes

basketball, athletic training, coaching, health coach, basketball coach,

I work with several athletes who struggle to eat enough to compensate for the energy expended during practice and games. Staying on top of your food and hydration as an athlete can be tricky, but it can be done! This is a great list for those athletes who struggle to eat enough throughout the day, and/or who don’t know what foods are appropriate around practice and games.

Being an athlete myself, I understand the athletic body and what needs to happen to optimize performance both on and off the court, field or track.

What I won’t spend much time talking about here is water intake, but it is SUPER important to stay hydrated while exercising. As a guideline, I start with recommending 96oz per day, but if you find you’re feeling lethargic, thirsty or are excessively sweating, that and should be increased. Of course, don’t overdo it as that can result in hyponatremia (over-hydration).

Different athletes on different days have different energy needs. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to energy needs and the type of fuel is just as important as the amount. For nutrient variety, snacks should contain sources from 2-3 food groups. It is recommended protein-rich snacks be consumed between meals to help maintain healthy and muscular body composition.


Snacks for athletes:


150 calorie portions

1 apple with 1oz cheddar cheese (7g protein)

1 slice whole grain bread with 1/2tbs peanut butter (7g protein)

3/4c plain 0% Greek yogurt with 1/2c berries (15g protein)

1oz Swiss cheese with 50 calories of rye or wheat crackers (9g protein)

1 slice whole grain bread with 1 hard boiled egg and a

tomato slice (11g protein)

1/4c hummus and 1c raw carrots (6g protein)

15 almonds and 1/2c grapes (5g protein)

1 granola bar and 1 orange (3g protein)

2 rice cakes and 1tbs peanut butter (4g protein)

3c air popped popcorn and 2tsp butter (4g protein)

1.5c raw veggies and 2tbs ranch dressing (2g protein)


300 calorie portions

1 cup cooked oatmeal, ½c milk, 6 almonds, ¼c raisins, and ½ scoop (0.5 oz) whey protein powder or ½ cup vanilla 1% Greek yogurt (22 g protein)

1c bran type cereal w. raisins, 1c milk, 1 banana (14 g protein)

6” submarine type sandwich (chicken breast, roast beef, or ham) plus cheese, and 1c milk (33 g protein)

Salad containing: 1c cooked pasta, ½c vegetables, 2 tbsp Italian or Greek salad dressing, 3 oz chicken breast (no skin) (34 g protein)

Salad containing: 1c cooked quinoa, 3 oz cooked salmon, 1c raw veggies, and 1 tbsp Italian dressing (32 g protein)

Smoothie made with 1 scoop protein powder, 1c fresh or frozen berries, 1 banana, and 2c milk (35 g protein)

Smoothie made with 1c 0% plain Greek yogurt, 1c fresh or frozen berries, 1 banana, and 2c milk (35 g protein)

1 medium whole wheat bagel, 2 tbsp peanut or almond butter, ½c fruit (16 g protein)