What are the best snacks for athletes?
When we play sports, we make sure we have the proper equipment needed to play, like a helmet for football, skates for hockey, a glove for baseball, cleats for soccer, or high-top sneakers for basketball. We couldn’t play very well without the required gear. But how do we help our game from the inside out?
You shouldn’t swallow a pair of shin guards, that’s for sure! But you should consider swallowing some healthy food packed with the nutrients you need. The right foods and drinks can help you become a better athlete.
Professional athletes know this is true. In fact, many professional teams employ dietitians and nutritionists — people who know a lot about healthy eating — to help choose the best foods and snacks for athletes.
What should athletes eat?
All kids and adults need to eat a variety of healthy foods, and athletes are no different. Everybody needs foods that include:
- protein (found in meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts, and dairy foods)
- carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are the best sources)
- vitamins (as found in fruits and vegetables, for instance) and minerals like calcium (found in dairy products)
We need some fat, too, but that’s not usually difficult to get. It’s found in meats, cheeses, nuts, oils, and butter.
School-age kids (ages 6 to 12) need between 1,600 and 2,200 calories a day. An athlete who is more active than a typical active kid might need to eat more.
Each kid is different. It’s important to consider how much time is actually spent being active and training for the sport.
A balanced diet can give an active, growing body all the protein it needs.
Drink plenty of water
You’ve probably seen athletes drinking water when there is a break in the action. That’s because athletes need water before, during, and after exercise. When people sweat, they lose water through their skin. Sweating cools the body down, but if you lose too much water this way, you could get dehydrated.
If you get dehydrated you won’t feel well or perform well. Serious dehydration can make you sick enough that you’d need to go to the emergency department for treatment.
Drinking before, during, and after a game is the best way to stay hydrated. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Water is the best choice. Fruit infused water or fruit juice are other refreshing, healthy drinks.
Sports drink are OK once in a while, but remember that these drinks have a lot of sugar and calories. Water is still the best drink for your body and it contains zero calories. You may want to choose a sports drink if you are exercising vigorously for more than an hour or in really hot weather.
The best pre-game meal
Carbohydrates and protein are needed for energy, make sure these foods are low in fat and fiber otherwise they can slow digestion.
Snacks for Athletes
Make sure to bring snacks, especially for long practices, competitions, or all-day events, you do not want your athlete to be hungry. A half a sandwich, fresh or freeze dried fruit, a small handful of nuts are all good snacks. Sports bars or energy bars are convenient, but they aren’t necessary for athletes. You can get the same energy from healthy foods. Freeze dried fruit crisps are naturally low in fat and higher in carbohydrates, they are packaged for convenient on the go snacking and are always a great, healthy, delicious choice for pre-game and sideline snacks for athletes!
Resources: Kids Health.org