What Should Student Athletes Eat to Fuel for After-School Practice?

Download Handout

Before a workout, it is important to give your body foods that contain both carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates provide your muscles with energy to use during exercise. They are found in foods like bread, grains, cereals, and starchy vegetables. Since our muscles are made of protein, including this nutrient as part of your before-practice snack helps to ensure your body has enough to prevent muscle protein breakdown during training. Protein is found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese; meats like beef, pork, and chicken; eggs; and plant foods like beans and other legumes. For a well-balanced snack, pair carbohydrate-rich food with a good source of protein after school as your “food fuel” during practice. Below are some examples. Mix and match the two columns to create your favorite combination! Make sure to drink some water to stay hydrated, too.

Another easy after-school snack is an energy or protein bar. Look for varieties that contain both carbohydrate and protein or make a homemade bar. I’m sharing my favorite, 5-ingredient Homemade Cherry Oat Protein Bar recipe. Make a batch on Sunday and eat them afterschool throughout the week. Depending on the size of the bar, you can eat 1-2 at a time. You may want to eat one before practice and save one for afterwards.

Homemade Cherry Oat Protein Bar

Ingredients for 12:

• 1 cup Greek yogurt, any flavor

• 1-2 scoops(approximately 25-50 grams)vanilla-flavored whey protein powder

• 1 cup old-fashioned oats

• 2 tablespoons dried cherries, chopped into bite-sized pieces

• 2 tablespoons honey


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Use a baking sheet that is coated with non-stick spray or lined with parchment paper. Another option if you love making your own snack bars is to use a baking sheet with bar-sized inserts (check out the photos).

2. In a large bowl, stir the yogurt and protein powder together.

3. Add in oats and dried fruit; mix well.

4. On the baking sheet, form the mixture into bar shapes in the size you prefer.

5. Using a spoon, drizzle the honey around the edge and across the top of each bar.

6. Bake for about 20 minutes. The bars should have a slight golden-brown color from the oats and honey when they are done.

7. Let the bars cool completely; store in the fridge to keep them firm and fresh.

Recipe Notes:

• When it comes to whey protein, not all products are created equal. Look for a brand that has been third-party tested and includes either the “NSF Certified for Sport,” “Informed Choice/Sport,” or “USP”seal on the package.

• Any dried fruit will work for this recipe, so feel free to swap the cherries for your favorite.

• If you use plain Greek yogurt, I suggest adding ½ teaspoon vanilla extract for flavoring.