Power-Packed Snacks to Fuel Young Athletes

Power-Packed Snacks to Fuel Young Athletes

Power-Packed Snacks to Fuel Young Athletes

Ahh, the vigor and vitality of a youthful age. Young children and teenagers who are active in sports or other extracurricular activities can have quite a demanding appetite. According to KidsHealth, the recommended calorie intake for children between the ages of six and twelve is about 1,600 to 2,200 per day depending on activity level.

When reaching puberty, girls have an increased calorie need too, but it's usually less than boys experiencing the same changes. At this stage, boys typically require around 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day depending on activity levels, while teenaged athletes may need to eat up to 5,000 calories per day!

As children grow, we need to make sure that they're receiving proper nutrition that's packed with the nutrients they need to perform their best while still being tasty. A protein bar, while certainly packed to the brim with nutrients, typically has an acquired taste and likely wouldn't be enjoyed by young kids and teenagers.

With this in mind, we recommend looking for healthy snacks that contain a generous amount of good carbs and protein.

How to Choose Healthier Snacks

The concession stands at your young athlete's game are typically filled with soda and candy. And while we're not saying you should never have either, when making a smart choice for game day snacking, there are way better options.

You'll want to look for snacks and foods that are easy to eat, contain a good amount of carbs and protein to help fuel your body during intense activities, and are filling enough to hold them over for a while.

Let's compare and contrast a couple of alternatives to their less-healthy counterparts.

Instead of a soda, give them a well-blended fruit smoothie. A smoothie made with a serving of vanilla Greek yogurt, strawberries, and bananas will deliver protein, carbs, and fiber in a delicious and totally sippable drink. Soda, on the other hand, has zero nutritional value and may leave them feeling sluggish and bloated due to the heavy carbonation.

Instead of a snack cake, try good old-fashioned peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with whole-wheat bread. Peanut butter delivers long-lasting protein and healthy fats while whole wheat bread provides carbs for lasting energy. Snack cakes, while certainly tasty, could lead to drowsiness from ‘sugar-crash’ resulting in hindered performance.

When in season, watermelon is one of the best foods for athletes of all ages especially after running and sprinting. One serving of watermelon has only 80 calories but 21 grams of carbs. And while it does contain fructose, it's naturally occurring and is much more favorable than processed sugars in most candies and junk foods. This makes a slice of watermelon a great recovery choice after a tough day on the field.

Our Favorite High-Impact Snacks For Today's Active Youth

When planning your young one's snacks, remember that quality matters much more so than quantity. Choosing raw whole fruits over snacks that are high in processed sugars, for example, will provide the sweetness they may crave while also avoiding ‘sugar crash’.

These are our top three healthy snacking options and why they're great for young athletes both on and off the field.

Peanut Butter and Apple Slices

Our first choice for healthy snacking involves two staples in just about everyone's pantry. Apples provide a crisp, sweet, and fiber-rich snack that only takes seconds to prepare. It also gives a nice carb boost to even the most demanding athletes before and after the game. Your kids will also benefit from the peanut butter's long-lasting protein that will leave their hunger at the starting line.

Chocolate Milk

Chocolate milk works great as a recovery option for kids and teens who've just finished practice or game. The protein will help with muscle recovery while the carbs will help to reload their tired muscles with energy. Chocolate milk is a good source of electrolytes to help your athlete rehydrate. And because of those electrolytes, it's also a great alternative to sports drinks.

Trail Mix

You don't have to go camping to enjoy a delicious bag of trail mix. While store-bought options can be good, we recommend creating your own batches in order to choose exactly which ingredients your athlete loves the most. Raisins are surprisingly filling and offer good carbs to fuel their play. Add various nuts like cashews or almonds along with pumpkin seeds for filling protein that packs a punch. Dark chocolate can also help add some sweetness alongside dried fruits and granola.

Healthier Snacks = Better Performance

On game day, ditching the processed sugar and fish-shaped crackers for healthier and more filling alternatives is a smart choice that will show in your young athlete's performance. Snacks with a good mix of both carbs and protein ensure they'll feel full yet precise and agile while helping to stave off hunger. If you're already providing these sorts of snacks, consider exploring even more healthy options to add a bit of variety to their snacking rituals.

And lastly, when planning a young athlete's snacks, always remember the formula:

Carbs make them go, protein helps them grow!