High-Schooler General Nutrition

This is a long question, and familiarity with US high school systems/schedule will be beneficial in answering. That said, I am a junior in high school and a road racer going into my second year of cycling. I am currently set up doing five rides a week and running on the two other days. These workouts are done almost exclusively soon after school, for the time being at least until baseball season. I am looking for suggestions on what things I can do for general nutrition. How should I be fueling my training with my meals and snacks? What kind of things are good for breakfast and to take as lunch to school? I am looking for things that are quick to prepare, but also nutritious and far more beneficial than the things I’m currently eating, which I try to make sure is relatively healthy, but I know not all of it is as good as it could be. If y’all could help me out, that would be wonderful.

The Endurance Diet is worth a read.

Eat everything, eat quality, eat carbohydrate, eat enough, and eat individually


Good work outta you! I wish I had been mature enough to think like you at your age, I’m just getting there at 47 :rofl:

Oatmeal for breakfast is super easy. I eat a cup of old fashioned oats with a bit of milk heated in the microwave for 2 minutes. When it’s hot, I add a small amount of maple syrup & it tastes great.

A super easy dish to cook is a sweet potato & black bean skillet with cous cous. If you do a search, a recipe from a cooking site will come up. This takes 45 minutes or so & makes enough for 5 or 6 pretty good sized portions. I like to mix it together & put it in a big tortilla with a touch of hot sauce.

I love peanut butter & jelly sandwiches with whole grain wheat bread, 100% natural peanut butter (fresh ground peanuts is the only ingredient) & strawberry preserves.

Another quick & easy meal to cook is chicken & brown rice. I cut up & cook a couple of chicken breasts in a pan til golden brown & mix with 1 cup (uncooked) brown rice. Then I add a bit of masala sauce & put it in a plastic container. It gives me 4 days of a light lunch. A side of steamed broccoli & carrots goes well with this.

Bananas are my favorite fruit by far & I usually eat one about 15 minutes before a workout.

I’m sure others will chime in with more but these are fairly simple to make. Hope this helps out a bit. Good luck!

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I think you’ll run into a fundamental conflict between baseball and cycling. (At least that was my experience).

Unless you are willing to accept a slightly higher body weight and composition than a pure road racer – which is likely absolutely healthy for a high school athlete – you’ll find that strength training for baseball is incompatible with cycling. In my experience, the more time I spent on the bike, the worse my batting became. Hitting beyond the middle of the outfield became very difficult; throwing from LF to home (or even a cut off man at SS) was really damn hard. I guess if I was a catcher or 1B, I’d stand a chance… but probably not.

In other words, you’re at a great age to enjoy both sports. But, soon enough one of them will suffer at the athletic needs of the other.

Dave, I will definitely look into that. Thank you!

I am unsure of the average weight for a pure road racer to be perfectly honest, but I weigh in right now at 155 pounds with a height of 6’0" or 6’1" (kind of in between). I do expect this number to rise 5-10 pounds in muscle in the next few months, however, because I have gained 5 pounds since the end of the cross country season just over a month ago. I recognize this might be slightly heavy for a roadie, but I do put a lot more focus on strength and fitness than I do weight. I am also strength training 2-3 times per week in the form weights class as part of my school schedule.
As you noted, baseball is definitely a hard thing to mix with racing. Especially considering tryouts for me are the very same week as my first race of the season, and the two sports run concurrently throughout the baseball season. Last year being my first year racing, everything was a learning experience, and baseball was no exception. I did not do a good job balancing the two, but my baseball coach and I are already having conversations about my training loads, commitments to the race team I’ve joined, and how to manage my time between both sports for next spring. As you said, strength is difficult but I do find that playing C, P, and 3B, I don’t suffer as much. I’ve never been a power hitter either, so my ability to hit gaps hasn’t been affected much. On the flip side, playing SS, 2B, and OF, and I do some of all of those, probably does suffer. However, and my baseball coach and I discussed this too, cycling has significantly helped my knees to an unbelievable extent. He would even tell me after hard games and practices to go home and spin on the rollers.
Overall, I actually find it more beneficial to have more weight and more muscle, in my case that is, and I think it only helps my fast-twitch fibers light up in field sprints ;). Thank you, Jack.

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Kris, that is much appreciated. Those are great suggestions and I definitely think I’ll have to increase my oatmeal intake for sure and try those lunch items too. I’m curious about the bananas, as I generally have one with lunch, or later in the day often after my workout. Am I losing out on the anti-cramping or other benefits of the fruit by not eating one right before? I had been having a gel about 10-15 minutes beforehand, but that was also an added reason for this subject, because those gels are definitely expensive.

I’d just like to add, don’t worry about your weight too much at your age. Just try to eat lots of veg and eat when you’re hungry. Try to stay away from processed and especially fried food, and sweets/biscuits/icecream and so on. No need to go mad though, the odd pizza or chocolate bar is not going to kill you, just make sure you have them as treats and not just because you’re bored and want something quick.

Oh, and with regards to gels - no need to spend on that for training imo. Just have jelly babies or something like that instead, or even better something like homemade oat bars. Some recipes are really easy, GCN have a couple of videos, just make a batch over the weekend and they’ll last the next week or two.

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I can’t honestly answer whether fruit will help prevent cramps but I find a banana to be a great alternative to an energy gel & as you noted, much cheaper!

I’ve been fortunate enough not to have cramped for years & honestly, I don’t think that’s from good nutrition. In my experience, I’ve cramped when pushing way harder than normal or riding a lot longer than normal. As I began to ride harder for longer, the cramps have gone away.

Also want to reiterate what @splash said above -don’t get overly concerned about your weight at this point in your life. Trust me, you don’t want to go down the road to disordered eating or an eating disorder. Just eat healthy foods most of the time & eat when you’re hungry. There will be plenty of opportunity for calorie counting when you get older!

I spent 10 years teaching high school science. A slightly different view on things for you. First EAT. And eat enough! Lots and lots of real food. Teachers know who the athletes are – you will find some that let you eat between classes if you need to. Bring real food to school – avoid the processed stuff in the cafeteria. (Listen to the podcasts about nutrition).

Don’t get into the fad things that coaches might push. Saw some of that when I was using school weightrooms, etc for my personal training. Stick with wholesome stuff.

Don’t know what your home life is like. If you need to cook your own stuff, plan a chunk of Sat or Sun and just get it done. My family spends a lot of Sunday afternoon cooking so we have less to do during the week.

Keep asking questions.

@dprimm I really appreciate your response and your perspective it comes from. I already bring my lunch to school every day, and it generally consists of a sandwich, mostly turkey/mayo/cheese, often tuna salad, and occasion peanut butter and jelly. I also take a nutrigrain bar and either a banana or apple. Sometimes, I will also throw in chips which are almost always harvest cheddar sun chips, if I include them.
I am curious to know more of what you mean referring to “fad things” coaches push, and whether you’re referring to my sports coaches or my weights coaches.
I truthfully prefer home-cooked meals to fast food or frozen meals, but that, unfortunately, is often what I get as I have two 9-year-old siblings and life is incredibly hectic. I furthermore, don’t have the time to cook my own meals. I will definitely need to work my way towards doing those weekend cooking sessions.

One sandwich? I am 48 and eat more than that for lunch. I only get to exercise 1 hour per day. And I am not a growing teenager (shoot, I was tan due to the fridge light)! Are you eating enough?

Additional sandwiches in the locker will let you grab something between classes (Yes, I understand going to a locker is not cool anymore – and that many schools have eliminated them. If the latter is the case, let me know and I will give you ideas how to have food handy throughout the day).

Fad things – one that comes to mind is a football coach telling his athletes to drink pedialyte after being in the weight room. None of them were even sweating! This was right after athletes discovered pedialyte has electrolytes and were drinking it. I know there is more but nothing that comes to mind right now.

For fast food, choose the healthier options. No Popeyes (@Nate_Pearson) or other total junk. There are many places that are fast and have pretty fresh food. Panera, Qdoba, Chipole.

Get a large package of chicken parts – whatever you like. Bake or grill everything. Enough you can eat off it for the week (and the family if you want). Microwave frozen veggies will save you time and get those in you.

I started doing the cooking in middle school out of necessity at home. Your siblings will be more of a challenge than yourself.

Check with your library for the books by Shalane Flanagan – run fast eat slow; run fast, cook fast, eat slow. They are fast meals that are easy to prepare.

Out of time here. Post your questions. Remember, this is all supposed to be fun!

Thank you, and I assure you I am having fun learning all I can, and getting faster too. You’re almost definitely correct in that I don’t eat enough, and that is largely because of the limited amount of time I have to eat lunch. I load that sandwich up though ;). That was part of why I’m looking for more things to eat though, without turning to snacks most kids would turn too that are just downright unhealthy. And I also eat a lot more at home as well.
Thank you for your suggestions and references, they are very helpful!

I’ve been out of HS for 11 years now, but I remember there not being microwaves and what not to heat food up so I’m sure that’s a challenge.

My suggestion, if you like to cook or can bribe your parents to help, is the skratch labs portables book. It has tons of of good stuff that you can eat on the ride and has good crabs. And if you can eat it while riding it will be easy to eat as a snack while at school.

Also overnight oats can be your best friend. Infinite amount of combinations and you just add some liquid (milk, almond milk, water) and oats and then whatever you want for toppings (fruit, nuts, cinnamon, etc…skies the limit). Throw it in the fridge over night and you’re good to go in the morning. Or even a mid morning snack.

This overnight oats recipe is amazing. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5nWsV0Be-vI
And it has coffee in it to get you through your morning or afternoon classes. (Also it’s easy to cut in half or add more depending on how much you want).

You are right, still no microwaves, for my school anyway (I know of others that have them and I have no clue if mine has plans to get them or not :frowning: which is indeed a big limiter). I will have to look at that Skratch labs book, I know my best friend has a few of their products in his pantry, so I suppose I have a way to try their stuff too.
I just watched the video, and those overnight oats look outstanding and may just be just what I’m looking for breakfast-wise, as it is hard to get up in the morning and make things, even as vital as that is in many cases. It helps that I love coffee too. Thank you for pointing me in these directions. Your suggestions are wildly helpful.

I keep posting this in different threads.
Because it’s my favorite easy guide to nutrition.
You’ll have to extrapolate the info a little (because it’s somewhat oriented towards Sufferfest training) but it gives you Good examples of what to eat, when and how much. There are some great tables with carba and protein portions by food type and amount too.

Well worth reading.


P.S. - I am not being paid by SF! I use TR!

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