With summer now over and many people heading back to college to kick off another semester, you may be slightly fearful of what this may mean to your muscle-building program.
Over the summer months you may have had more time in your schedule to fit in all your workouts as well as plan, prepare and eat 6-to-8 meals a day with little to no problem.
Now you have classes 3-to-5 hours a day, studying and your workouts to get in, which leaves little time for meal prep. Many professors also place restrictions on what they will allow in their class in terms of eating, which could mean you're going four or more hours in a row (depending on your schedule) without food.
Since you've made good progress over the summer by rigidly sticking to an eat-every-three-hours routine, this new schedule is going to put a serious twist in your diet.
Luckily, if you take the time to prepare some quick and easy snacks to take with you while you're at school, meeting your daily calorie requirements does not need to be all that challenging.
Always remember that the largest influence of progress will be your daily calorie intake, so even if you place the greater amount of calories in your three squares a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) along with the pre and post workout meals, as long as you are meeting your needs you'll still see progress.
Then you just need to add in some smaller snacks for in-between or during classes to keep hunger under control and bump that calorie intake to exactly where it needs to be.
The following snack options are quick to make and usually can be taken right into class with you. If you are absolutely not allowed food in class, then you should be able to eat these in the walk between classes without any issues.
Canned Tuna In A Whole Wheat Pita
Canned tuna with a pop-top lid is a perfect stash for your school backpack. Carry it with you all day. When hunger strikes, you just have to reach for it, pop the lid and spoon it into a whole wheat pita.
You can find small snack-sized tins of canned tuna that come pre-flavored. This eliminates the need to add any extra high-calorie dressing or condiments. Just be sure to read the nutritional label and choose a brand without any extra sugars. A tomato-basil flavor or lemon-dill works perfectly.
The whole wheat pita supplies the slow digesting carbohydrates to give your brain energy to stay focused in your afternoon classes. The tuna supplies your muscles with the amino acids required to rebuild musculature from your exertion in gym class.
To get some healthy fats into this snack, add a small amount of sliced avocado to the pita or eat a few nuts on the side.
Peanut Butter Protein Bars
Another snack that will fill you up and really boost your calorie intake for the day is peanut butter protein bars.
These you will have to prepare by yourself but can easily be made in 1-to-15 minutes over the weekend and will last for the week to come.
- 1 cup of natural peanut butter along with any finer cereal (rice crispies, puffed wheat, corn flakes or raw oats)
- 1 scoop of protein powder
- Enough honey or maple syrup to get it to stick together so you're easily able to form bars.
- Once mixed, press into a pan and then place in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour until set.
- Cut into snack-sized bars and wrap in tin foil or saran wrap to store.
Peanut Butter Protein Bars PDF (26 KB)
Cheese And Whole Grain Crackers
The third snack that's quick and easy to take with you to school is lower-fat cheese and whole-grain crackers. When you choose the lower fat varieties of cheese it is a good protein source and the calcium boost will work double time to make sure you're able to workout to full intensity.
The whole grain crackers will also provide a good source of carbohydrates to round out the snack. If you wish you could also have the cheese with pieces of a whole grain tortilla, pita, or with a sliced apple.
Usually cheese can last in your bag at least 4-to-5 hours without refrigeration, which makes it a fairly easy snack to carry with you.
Finally, the last snack you can prepare and take to school with you is home-made granola. Just like trail mix, this is a nice option since you prepare it yourself so you know exactly what goes in it.
To prepare your own granola, start by preheating the oven to 325° F. Next place parchment paper over two large baking sheets and then set aside.
- 4 cups of rolled oats
- 1 cup vanilla protein powder
- 3/4 cup oat bran or wheat germ
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- Over low heat in a saucepan stir together 1/8 cup maple syrup, 1/2 cup of honey, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
- Once it reaches a low boil, pour over the dry ingredients and then stir until well coated.
- Spread this final mixture over the baking sheets and then place in your oven until crispy, about 20 minutes, stirring at halftime. Once finished, let cool before breaking apart and storing.
Homemade Granola Recipe PDF (31 KB)
As long as you take the time to pre-plan your snacks before you leave in the morning, a busy school schedule should not have any negative influence on your overall progress rate.
It's the people who don't plan and then find themselves stuck between class with nothing but vending machine food who run into major problems and don't realize their goals.
For additional protein sources don't overlook other easily transportable options such as beef jerky, pop top tuna, protein powder, and even lower sodium deli meat if you're really stuck for options.