The semester comes to an end. Late nights at the library, extra servings of coffee, barely enough time for the gym, and next to zero time for meal prep. You don’t want to throw your results out of the window. I certainly don’t during my painful exam seasons in school.
As a matter of fact, in April 2015 I competed in the physique category during my exam season. My peak week (the week that is most critical in deciding how you look on stage) was the week right before my exams started. I placed fourth in my show, qualifying me for the provincial stage (I am in Ontario, Canada). Right after my show I got approached by an athlete recruiter from a famous supplement company that asked me if I was interested in doing a video commercial for a product. So, although I had a cheat meal after the competition I needed to stay on track during my exams in order to be ready for a video shoot the following week. Believe me, I know how hard it is to maintain sanity and keep your hard-earned results. But if you approach it with a proactive mind it really isn’t that difficult.
Keep in mind that these tips are not the most cost effective ways to keep a diet. They are a crisis aversion strategy for exam season. You will spend more money than usual on your grocery list, but you will certainly spend less than eating out in fast food restaurants throughout exams and you won’t lose your hard work in the process. So without further delay, I present to you my 6 top tips for keeping your diet on point during exams. Let’s do this!
Preparation is everything!
Face it, once exams start you are either locked in your room studying or stranded in the library.
Calculate the amount of meals you will need per day and the amount of days this chaotic period will last for. This should give you a good idea of what you will need in your cupboards.
Go to the grocery store before the storm!
If you have ever lived in a university town, you know that around exam season all the snack cabinets and ready-made food supplies drain quickly. Don’t be that person scrambling for the remains of that macaroni and cheese box.
Get your carbs!
Purchase yourself the number of packets of ready-made rice you require in Step #1. Long grain rice is the lowest rice on the glycemic index. You can usually find rice blends with quinoa and lentils for added protein.
Get yourself some ready-made protein sources!
Canned Tuna, shrimp and chicken are all viable options. Some grocery stores also carry frozen packets of cut up, cooked chicken that you can stick in the microwave for a couple of minutes and serve.
Stock up on your supplements!
In a time when you have a lack of sleep and do not have a huge amount of access to the best food you will have gaps in your macro and micronutrients. The last thing you need is to lose muscle because you did not have enough protein, or get a flu because your immune system crashed.
Don’t save money on this part! Stock up on:
Egg Protein and Whey Protein (concentrate digests a little slower; meaning it keeps you full a little longer)
Multivitamins (lack of vitamins lead to all sorts of problems such as low energy levels and immune system weakness)
Greens and Digestive Enzymes (feeds your body with antioxidants and minerals. Digestive enzymes will maximize the digestion and nutrient absorption of the foods you are eating)
Snacks are lifesavers sometimes!
Snack smart, people! There are healthy snacks out there. Get some protein filled Jerky, protein bars, rice cakes (flavoured), protein cereal, or sweet potato chips. Try to find products that have a good balance between carbs, fats and proteins. This is the stuff you reach for when you are in a midnight study crisis or spending a full day on campus, so make it as balanced as possible.
Best of luck to all the students out there getting ready and hitting the books hard – may the gains stay with you!
*This article was originally written by me for MyProtein Canada*
Nik V Vasilyev
Digital Fitness Coach
Online Personal Training
Custom Nutrition Plans
Corporate Wellness Programs Toronto