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Healthier Snacks for Teams and Athletes

Posted by Integrative Medicine Team on Jul 21, 2018 1:27:00 PM

It might be time to upgrade your game-day offerings and go beyond potato chips and fruit chews. So if you're next on snack duty for your child's sports team, don't sweat it!  Melinda Wivell, RDN, LDa registered dietitian at Lake Health, shares her short list for healthier, shareable snacks that can fuel your young athlete: 

Soccer Practice.jpg

Snacks are a great way to bring the team together and help athletes maintain their energy during a game. Snacks surrounding activity should provide your athlete with instant energy before the game and instant recovery afterwards. It is best to choose snacks that are carbohydrate-based because they will be absorbed quickly either for energy production or to refuel athletes. Snacks should be lower in fat and contain a moderate amount of protein. High fat, processed foods will make athletes of any age feel sluggish during the game.

Elementary Age Athletes

If you're packing a cooler, try one of these healthier options: 

  • 6 oz. cartons of fruit yogurt or yogurt in a tube, or a dairy-free yogurt drink
  • Turkey and cheese slider sandwiches on mini buns
  • Low-fat string cheese paired with small packet of mini pretzels
  • Single serving hummus cups with vegetable dippers, portioned into individual sandwich bags
  • 8 oz. low-fat chocolate milk or a dairy-free alternative
  • Banana, orange slices or apple slices

For easy snacks that don't need refrigeration, bring one of these grabable favorites: 

  • Mini bag of air popped popcorn 
  • Applesauce cups or pouches
  • Snack packs of raisins
  • Whole grain granola bars
  • Individual bags of veggie chips
  • Clementines. 

Hydration is important for young athletes, too: 

  • Pre-game: drink 4-8 oz. of water 1-2 hours prior to the game or practice. Then drink another 4-8 oz. of water 10-15 minutes before the activity starts.
  • During sports: 5-9 oz. of water every 20 minutes
  • After sports: it is necessary to replace water lost during the game. Within 2 hours, drink 24 oz. of water for every pound lost.
  • Water is best. Sports drinks may be used during the game if activity exceeds 1 hour to help balance electrolytes. If you're serving juice or juice boxes, aim for 100% fruit juice with no added sugars. 

 

Middle School Aged Athletes

Refrigerated options: 

  • 6 oz. Greek yogurt with ¼ cup granola and ¼ cup berries (yogurt parfaits)
  • 8 oz. fruit smoothies made with fruit, low-fat Greek yogurt and low-fat milk, dairy-free alternative or coconut water
  • A variety of make-ahead wraps, such as turkey and low-fat cheese wraps, hummus and cucumber wraps, or banana and nut butter wraps
  • Thin-sliced bagel with 1 Tbsp. low-fat cream cheese
  • Small banana paired with low-fat chocolate milk or dairy-free alternative

Shelf-stable snack ideas: 

  • Whole grain granola bar
  • Nut butter and jelly sandwich
  • 2 clementines with a small bag of mini-pretzels
  • Thin-sliced bagel with 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • Individual servings of trail mix
  • Whole grain peanut butter crackers

Proper hydration for middle school aged athletes is important for both performance and safety:

  • Pre-game: 8-16 oz. of water 1-2 hours prior to the game
  • Pre-game: 8-12 oz. of water 10-15 minutes before the game
  • During sports: 5-10 oz. of water every 20 minutes
  • After sports: it is necessary to replace water lost during the game. Within 2 hours, drink 24 oz. of water for every pound lost.
  • Water is best. Sports drinks may be used during the game if activity exceeds 1 hour to help balance electrolytes.

Topics: Healthy Diet, Nutrition, Student Athletes, Kids