Have you ever wondered if the snacks your child eats after a long game actually provides them with the nutritional value their body needs? While all kids need to be eating balanced and healthy meals, young athletes need to be sure to get the right mix of nutrients in order to fuel their active bodies. Parents are starting to dive deeper into the quality of children’s snacks sold in stores, and question whether or not these snacks are really giving their child the nutritional value they need after a game or practice. The bottom line about packaged snacks is that kid’s snacks may not be what they seem. At first glance, packaged foods and sports drinks may seem like a good idea. These products promise energy, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, however what the front label doesn’t tell you is how the excess sugar, and artificial ingredients strips away any possible benefit the snack may hold.  What many of these packaged snacks and drinks are really doing to your kid’s health is alarming.

Today we are going to share with you the top ten snacks for growing athletes, and adult athletes as well. These snacks can serve as a healthy swap for some of the most commonly consumed sugar laden snacks brought to the field on game day. We will also shed some light on when these snacks should be enjoyed, because timing can be just as important as the quality of the food when it comes to athletic performance. Forget the confusion around snack time, and ditch the highly processed foods. You will see just how easy it is to incorporate whole and natural foods that are kid approved and full of flavor. Here are 10 heathy game day snacks every athlete should be enjoying.

10 Healthy Game Day Snacks:

Instead of bringing sugary sports drinks, cookies, and pizza for a post-game snack, try one of the snacks below. These snacks have a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fat to refuel muscles, and replenish glycogen stores after activity. These foods are going to help your child keep up with the increased energy demands on their body and recover post-game/practice.

  1. Hummus & pita: What better way to increase your child’s fiber intake than with a delicious pita and hummus snack? Most kids love hummus, and with a wide variety of flavors it’s really hard to go wrong. Hummus is also an excellent source of plant based protein, so pair this with some whole grain pita bread and you have a nicely balanced post-game snack that both the kids and parents can get on board with!
  2. Greek yogurt & berries: Greek yogurt packs in nearly 17 grams of protein per cup! Stick with an unsweetened full fat Greek yogurt and add a drizzle of honey to sweeten this yourself. Top the yogurt with some berries and you have a snack rich in protein, healthy fat, and carbohydrates. There’s no better way to refuel than with a snack like this!
  3. Banana & almond butter sandwich: Having a banana is a healthy post-game snack and most kids love them. Bananas are an excellent source of healthy carbohydrates and potassium, helping to prevent muscle cramping. Add some sliced banana to a piece of whole grain bread with some almond butter for a kid favorite snack! This recipe can also be adapted to use sunflower seed butter if necessary, based on your child’s taste.
  4. Turkey roll-ups: Turkey roll ups can be made with organic turkey meat, sliced cheese, and some hummus. Add the hummus to the turkey, and top with cheese, and simply roll. This is a great post-game snack rich in protein, healthy fat, and calcium.
  5. Homemade trail mix: Why buy store bought trail mix when you can make your own? Plan an afternoon to make your own trail mix, and get the kids involved! Add in almonds, cashews, unsweetened dark chocolate and raisins for a balanced snack.
  6. Fruit + hard-boiled eggs: Fruit is commonly seen on the field after game day. To make this snack even better, pack a couple of hard-boiled eggs to add in some protein and healthy fats to go along with the healthy carbohydrates fruit brings.
  7. Sweet potato muffins: Homemade muffins made with a natural sweetener such as honey, and pure maple syrup make a great post-game snack, and kids love them! Try making a grain free sweet potato muffin, or a blueberry muffin made with rolled oats, and maple syrup.
  8. Fruit + Beef or Turkey Jerky: Jerky is a great source of protein, to help with muscle recovery. Jerky also contains sodium which helps to replenish the sodium that’s been lost in sweat during a game or practice. Try replenishing lost sodium with jerky instead of a high sugar sports drink to help prevent muscle cramping. Pair some jerky with a piece of fruit for some healthy carbohydrates, and you have a deliciously balanced on-the-go post-game snack.
  9. Cheese, crackers & fruit: Here is a simple snack that can easily be packed, and brought to the field. Try sticking with a whole grain cracker free from artificial ingredients, and excessive added sugars. Add a slice of cheese, and a side of freshly chopped fruit for a perfectly balanced snack.
  10. Mozzarella & tomato: The last snack on the list is a favorite among both adults, and kids. Buy some fresh mozzarella balls, and mix them with diced cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar as a perfect way to refuel the body. Not only is this snack delicious, but it packs a healthy dose of protein, calcium and healthy fat at the same time.

When should you snack?

I hope these snacks have given you some inspiration of how to fuel your child’s body on game-day or any day for that matter. Now that you know what to feed your young athlete, it’s important to talk about when these snacks should be enjoyed.

The general rule of thumb is to have your child snack within 30 minutes of intense activity, and then again two hours later. (1) It’s important to continue to allow your child to re-fuel on healthy foods since athletes continue to rebuild muscle tissue, and restore lost energy stores for up to an entire day after a game or practice.

If you feed your child healthy and balanced snacks, refueling their bodies will be easy! Shy away from artificial sweeteners and unnatural ingredients, and think whole foods ornatural sports shakes. Natural foods are what really nourishes and replenishes the body with all of the nutritional value athletes need to perform at their best, on and off the field.

So tell us, which one of these healthy game day snacks will you try first?

References:

  1. http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/feed-child-athlete.html#