Nutrition is an extremely important part to the development of an athlete. When an athlete works out, they are breaking down their immune system. Proper nutrition and adequate rest are how the athlete repairs his immune system and is able to gain strength. During weight lifting, tiny tears are made in the athlete's muscles. As these tears heal, the muscle increases in size and strength. In order for muscles to heal effectively they need proper amounts of nutrients.
The concept of gaining muscle mass is simple. In order to gain muscle mass an athlete must eat in a calorie surplus. This means that he must consume more calories than he burns. This is very difficult for many student athletes because they burn an extremely high amount of calories. Due to their high levels of activity, athletes must continually eat throughout the day. Here is an example of what an eating schedule for a student-athlete that is trying to gain muscle mass should look like.
Breakfast (at home) - Eating a big breakfast if very important because when a person wakes up their body is craving calories. Calories are equivalent to energy, so eating a healthy breakfast is essential to starting off a productive day. Option: Eggs, bagels, oatmeal, sandwich.
Snack 1 (before lunch) - This can be a sandwich, protein bar, or some type of fruit or vegetable. It is best if this is easily consumed and can be brought to school in a book bag.
Lunch - School lunch. If a student brings their lunch to school, they should pack food that will fill them up. Options: Sandwiches, Chicken, Turkey, Hamburgers, Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Fruit, Vegetables, Peanut Butter, Pizza, etc...
Snack 2 (before school is out, before practice) - This can be a sandwich, protein bar, or some type of fruit or vegetable. It is best if this is easily consumed and can be brought to school in a book bag.
Dinner (at home) - This is whatever is prepared at home. Hopefully this contains a large amount of protein and carbohydrates.
Snack 3 (before bed) - This snack is very important. As we sleep, our body repairs our muscles and immune system. Because of this, it is vital that we give our bodies calories before we sleep. If calories are not consumed before bed, the body will go into a starvation mode and it will begin to use muscle tissue for energy.
Post Workout- Some sort of recovery drink should be consumed. Options: Chocolate Milk, Whey Protein Shake, Muscle Milk, etc…
* It should be noted that drinking water throughout the day is imperative as well. Muscles are composed mostly of water and need to be hydrated in order to function at a high level. If an athlete becomes dehydrated they are more susceptible to muscle strains and tears.