Peanuts and cracker jacks may do well as a classic baseball fan snack, but the players themselves may want to fuel their performance with something a little different. Prioritizing good hydration and nutrition will improve an athlete’s performance. Good nutrition starts with a smart breakfast. In fact, studies show that a poor breakfast increases the likelihood of inadequate nutrition for the entire day. The importance of breakfast leads to the question, what should baseball players eat for breakfast?
The best balanced breakfasts for baseball players include:
- Oatmeal mixed with nut butter and berries
- Egg/spinach whole grain burrito and guacamole
- Low sugar whole grain cereal and milk with avocado toast
- Whole grain waffles/pancakes with greek yogurt and fruit
- Yogurt parfait with fruit and nuts
- Whole grain french toast with nut butter and bananas
- Green smoothie blended with cottage cheese or yogurt
A breakfast to fuel a teenage baseball player’s day should contain a mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat. This combination provides long lasting energy and materials the body needs to function well. Baseball players will want to limit high sugar breakfast foods that contain little nutrition. They should also avoid skipping breakfast, which can decrease later performance.
Continue reading to discover more about the type of nutrition that best supports a baseball player through training and games.
Why Should a Baseball Player Eat Breakfast?
The desire to push snooze and sleep a little longer can lead to a rushed morning. In their hurry to get out the door, teenagers may skip eating breakfast. This choice occurs frequently enough that a teenage athlete may ask, does skipping breakfast even matter? Yes! In short, breakfast provides important nutrients and energy for the upcoming day.
Missing this early opportunity to sit down and eat a balanced meal can increase the likelihood of poor dietary choices later in the day. A skipped meal may even increase cravings for foods high in sugar and fat. It can also increase risk of nutrient deficiencies.
On top of decreasing the quality of a teenager’s diet, a missed breakfast negatively affects overall well-being. Studies link eating breakfast to better concentration and focus, an improved mood and higher energy throughout the day.
All these benefits from eating breakfast will improve a baseball player’s health and ability to perform well. Those who find it difficult to fit in this important meal will find quick breakfast ideas in the next section.
Best On-the-Go Breakfast Ideas for Baseball Players
A little preparation and planning make eating breakfast easier and more realistic for a busy teenage baseball player.
First, use less activity filled days to make eating on busy days a little easier. Bake up a batch of whole grain waffles or pancakes to freeze and use later. A teenager can then just microwave or toast them and add some nut butter for a quick meal on another day.
Another good freezer meal is egg muffins. Combine chopped vegetables and other favorite vegetables/toppings/seasonings, with beaten eggs, bake in muffin trays and freeze. Again, a teenager can just warm up this easy breakfast.
Make-Ahead or Quick Breakfast Ideas:
- Overnight oatmeal
- Baked oats
- Smoothie (use cottage cheese, yogurt or nut butter with pre-frozen fruits and veggies for protein)
- Nut butter or avocado on toast or bagel
- Pre-make some egg and bean burritos
- Greek yogurt parfait
- Egg and avocado sandwich
- Easy Breakfast Cereal Bars
- 1 1/2 Cup Oatmeal
- 1 1/2 Cup Cereal (unsweetened cheerios or flakes)
- 2 Tbsp or to taste Honey or Syrup
- 1 Cup Peanut Butter
- 1 Egg
- Add-ins: nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc.
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease or put parchment paper in 8×8 pan. Pour all ingredients in pan and mix together. Press mixture flat into pan. Cook until slightly brown on top.
Breakfast can make a huge difference for a baseball player. The extra time set aside for a good breakfast is worth the added energy and well-being experienced the rest of the day.
What To Eat To Play Your Best Baseball
Baseball players need power, coordination and speed. The right nutrition during training can help athletes develop these characteristics. However, teenage baseball players should also focus on adequate hydration for best performance. The often long, hot games make hydration a key component of successful play.
Specific foods matter less than the overall make-up of a baseball player’s eating pattern. Eating a serving of a “superfood” will not make up for a lack of other nutrient dense foods. In a similar sense, choosing to consume a favorite treat among a balance of nutrient full foods will not ruin an athlete’s health either.
Teenage baseball players benefit from making 45-65% of their calories carbohydrates, 10-30% protein and 25-35% fat. Choosing nutrient dense foods more often will increase energy and health of an athlete for effective training.
Nutrient dense carbohydrate sources: whole grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes (beans, lentils, soy products), nuts, seeds, milk, yogurt
Nutrient dense protein sources: lean meat/poultry, seafood, eggs, legumes, nuts, dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese)
Nutrient dense fat sources: seafood, plant oils, nuts, seeds, olives, avocado
On top of creating a balanced eating pattern, baseball players need to drink enough fluid throughout the day. Some teens may try to make up for a day of inadequate hydration by drinking a large quantity of fluid all at once. This practice can result in electrolyte imbalances and gut distress.
How Can a Teenage Baseball Player Hydrate Well for Improved Performance?
Even 2% dehydration results in decreased performance. Inadequate fluid intake causes muscle cramping, headaches, slowed reaction time, tiredness and poor concentration. Teenage baseball players should not only drink adequate fluid during practice or games, but throughout the day and week to maximize on the benefits of good hydration.
Many adolescents rely solely on thirst. However, thirst usually means a teen is already dehydrated. Teenagers experience improved health if they drink fluids consistently throughout the day. The color of urine will better measure hydration status than thirst. A dark yellow means a teenager should drink more fluid until a pale-yellow color appears.
Throughout the day and week, water and other unsweetened beverages provide adequate hydration. Unsweetened beverages include water, milk, unsweetened plant-based milk, herbal teas and 100% fruit juice. Beverages with added sugars such as soda, energy drinks, fruit drinks, flavored milks, sports drinks and sweetened teas can lead to excess calorie or sugar consumption, cavities and energy crashes.
Baseball practices and games may last longer than one hour and take place in high temperature environments. Beverages with carbohydrate and electrolytes can support good hydration during these experiences. The electrolytes and carbohydrate help replace lost nutrients and replenish muscle energy.
About two hours before an event, teens should drink about 16 ounces (oz.) of fluids. Then an additional 8 oz. about fifteen minutes before the start of play. To continue with good hydration during a game or training, teenagers will want to drink 4-6 oz. of fluid every 15 minutes.
Finally, baseball players should properly rehydrate after a game or training. A good rule of thumb for rehydration is 16-24 oz. of fluid for every pound of weight lost. Combining this fluid with carbohydrates and protein can also replenish nutrient stores for effective recovery. This recovery snack may take the form of chocolate milk, a fruit smoothie or even water with a high carbohydrate and moderate protein snack.
Best Fuel for a Baseball Game
Due to the discontinuous nature of play in baseball, players generally don’t need a lot of extra calories. The long hours in the hot sun do necessitate a focus on good hydration.
During these long hours of play, teenage baseball players may also want to bring along some snacks. Common snacks may contain high amounts of sugar or fat. These often highly processed snacks may cause gut distress or energy crashes.
Instead of granola bars, cookies, sugar cereal, candy bars or soda, teenagers should choose lower sugar and fat snacks with a mix of carbohydrate and protein.
The carbohydrates supply the athlete with energy while the protein helps an athlete feel full and prevents blood sugar crashes. Good snack examples include peanut butter and banana sandwich, dried fruit and nuts, roasted chickpeas, popcorn and string cheese (if kept in correct temperature), energy balls (oatmeal, nut butter, fruit combined and formed into balls) and many other combinations of carbohydrate and protein.
What Not to Eat Before Baseball
Certain foods can cause gut distress, energy crashes and other discomforts that affect baseball performance. Teenagers should avoid new foods or eating habits prior to a game. They will want to stick to foods they know will work and save experimenting with foods for other days.
Type of foods to avoid or limit pre-game:
- Foods high in fat
- Foods high in fiber
- Foods high in sugar
- Foods with sugar alcohols
- Lactose containing foods if lactose intolerant
Eating too close to game time can also cause gut discomfort. Athletes can eat a larger meal 3-4 hours before the game with high carbohydrate and moderate protein and a lighter snack no less than 15-30 minutes before the game.
Pre-Game Meal Ideas:
- Salad and a chicken wrap/sandwich
- Egg burrito with fruit
- Spaghetti with meatballs and tomato-based sauce
- Chicken stir-fry served over rice/quinoa
- Classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich with whole grain crackers, carrots and fruit
Pre-Game Snack Ideas:
- Bagel with peanut butter
- Greek yogurt with fruit
- Egg on toast
- Banana with almond butter
- Tortilla with lower-fat cheese
- Fruit smoothie
- Trail mix and dried fruit
- String cheese and crackers
- Hard-boiled egg and juice
- Pretzels and peanut butter
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