Mar 3, 2017
More Pounds Needed
Leslie Bonci

Will is a high school basketball player who is trying to increase his weight. He says he eats a lot, but can’t eat before practice and often isn’t hungry for several hours after practice. Before games, he gets nervous and finds that anything he tries to eat doesn’t stay down. How can Will achieve his goals of fueling for games and increasing weight?

Since there are always more practices than games in any given week, Will’s first priority needs to be what happens before and after practice. He needs to learn how to “train his gut” so that he can eat more food. I would also suggest he ingest more beverages, since they empty more quickly than solids. I would recommend the following strategies to Will:

1. Eat a larger breakfast, perhaps adding an extra slice of toast with peanut butter or a waffle with butter and syrup, and a large glass of milk or juice.

2. Eat something between breakfast and lunch while moving from one classroom to another. Portable foods such as cereal, cereal bars, dried fruit, nuts, trail mix, and crackers work well, and are not messy to eat.

3. Eat a larger lunch with an extra beverage and food item such as a soft pretzel, bagel, or slice of pizza if eating in school. If packing a lunch, add some extra snack items such as crackers, baked chips, or pretzels and an extra half of a sandwich.

4. Before practice, have a few gulps of sports drink instead of nothing at all. If that is not available, have about eight ounces of apple juice or lemonade.

5. Immediately after practice, go for something to drink other than water, such as a sports drink, lemonade, fruit punch, and if tolerated, a snack such as a handful of whole grain cereal, pretzels, crackers, or a Rice Krispies treat.

6. Three to four hours before games, eat easy-to-digest foods such as cereal, bagels, waffles, pancakes, rice, and pasta. Foods such as macaroni and cheese, pizza, fried chicken, and burgers are fattier and more likely to cause an upset stomach at game time.

7. If solid foods are too difficult, try smoothies or meal replacement drinks such as Carnation Instant Breakfast, Boost, or portable chocolate milk containers.

Leslie Bonci, RD, MPH, CSSD, LDN, is the owner of Active Eating Advice by Leslie, a nutrition consulting company based in Pittsburgh. She is also the sports dietitian for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Kansas City Chiefs, Carnegie Mellopn University and the Toronto Blue Jays, and the author of Sport Nutrition for Coaches.

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