Going back to school doesn\u2019t have to mean going back to poor eating habits like skipping breakfast and chowing down on junk food after school. Eating a healthy, balanced diet every day is important, especially for student-athletes.\nHere are three key tips from Jeff Lucchino, MS, RDN, CSSD, a sports dietitian at UPMC, for making good food choices to fuel your school day and after-school practices.\nTo make an appointment or learn more about our nutrition services, visit\u00a0UPMCSportsMedicine.com.\nBreakfast for Athletes\nBreakfast is a critical meal. Because athletes typically sleep for six to 10 hours a night, they wake up needing quality fuel for their muscles.\nSkipping breakfast deprives your muscles of fuel, which results in a drop in concentration, energy, and stamina as the day goes on. To avoid skipping breakfast, prep your breakfast the night before.\nRELATED: Avocado Toast Recipe for a Healthy Breakfast\nBreakfast Recommendations\n\nOvernight oats: Combine 1\/2 cup of quick oats, 6 ounces of Greek yogurt, and fruit in a glass jar, plastic container, or bowl. Refrigerate overnight.\nPeanut butter and jelly sandwich: Use whole wheat bread, make this classic sandwich the night before, and store in the refrigerator. Add a single-serving fruit cup to complete the meal.\nProtein Plate: Pack on the protein with apple slices with peanut butter, two to three hard-boiled eggs, and a cup of Greek yogurt.\n\nHealthy Lunch Options\nIt\u2019s ideal for any athlete to pack a healthy, balanced lunch each day. However, most school cafeterias offer enough choices to create a solid well-balanced lunch. Here are three food items to look for in your school cafeteria:\n\nSandwich station: Sandwiches might not be the ideal lunch, but they provide a well-rounded meal consisting of protein (turkey is a good source), whole grains (choose whole wheat bread), calcium (cheese), and micro-nutrients (lettuce, tomato).\nFruit stand: Fruit is a healthy side to balance out your meal. Many schools offer fresh fruit or single-serve fruit cups.\nMilk: If you lack protein and vitamin D in your meal, low-fat milk is an excellent option.\n\nAfter School or Pre-Practice Snacks\nMany student-athletes go straight to practice at the end of their school day. Healthy snacking before practice gives your body the energy it needs to perform well.\nPlanning and packing a nutritious pre-practice snack should be part of your daily routine. Snacks should be nonperishable, appealing, and easy to carry. Here are five snack suggestions for athletes to enjoy before practice:\n\nWhole wheat crackers with peanut butter\nTrail mix containing nuts, seeds, and dried fruit\nPeanut butter and jelly sandwiches\nGranola bars\nShelf-stable pouches of yogurt or applesauce\n\nTo make an appointment or learn more about our nutrition services, visit UPMCSportsMedicine.com.