Best Snacks 4 Fueling
Whether you are a young competitive soccer player, swimmer, basketball player, athlete or a coach or parent, you have probably faced the challenge of what are the best snacks to eat for sustained energy during back-to-back games and tournaments. You know these events require top performance for hours on end, sometimes for days in a row, so what to feed those muscles?
Think about the last game, how much attention did you give to what snacks to pack for these events? Probably not much. Young athletes often give no thought to their fueling game plan for these strenuous events keeping them from performing well through out the day. And unfortunately, parents and coaches do not emphasize enough the importance of proper fueling before, during and after games either.
I’ve seen young athletes eat sugary candy full of chemicals during a competition, gobbling donuts and eating fried foods before a game starts. Have you ever noticed young athletes just slowing down and not pushing hard enough by second half? or perhaps, if you are an athlete, have you experienced a lack of focus and energy during games? You wonder why despite the sports drinks young athletes consume or the sugar from the donuts they ate before the game they are still dragging themselves and even making dumb mistakes.
Sure, they ate thinking they will have sustained energy, but instead the food they ate filled their stomach but didn’t give them the sustained energy needed and their muscles remained unfueled.
The result: less energy, lack of focus, prone to injuries. Athletic performance will be affected when the wrong carbs are consumed before a game.
So which are the right snacks?
When engaging is extended periods of exercise, one of the most important things for athletic success is solid nutrition, specially carbs, but not any carbs, the good carbs!
TIP: Carbs are important but so is to maintain optimal hydration specially in hot and humid weather. In addition to carbs, make sure you start your game day by drinking water first thing in the morning and all day long. Sip fluids throughout the day so you start the game well-hydrated (3-8 gulps of water every 15-20 minutes).
More about Good vs Bad Carbs
Complex carbs are the source of energy young athletes need for exercising, thinking and learning. Eating the right carbs at the right time help the body get ready for optimal performance.
Forget the sugary and processed drinks that will only give you the sugar crash in the middle of your game, there are healthy ways to sustain energy and fuel your game.
Here are 10 best fueling snacks to eat during back-to-back games:
1 rice cake or 4-6 crackers should give satisfaction and sustained energy when games are back to back, think 15 to 30 minutes before start time.
Make it a small bowl of fruit. A few berries, 2-3 piece of watermelon, grapes and oranges. Mix it up! This is great quick-digesting snack that can be eating closer to 60 minutes before game time.
Banana with Nut Butter
1 medium banana with 1 tablespoon of nut butter, almond butter is a good choice. Eat this 1 hour before game to take in the carbs for energy. Excellent source of potassium which acts as an electrolyte.
1 small bagel with 1 tablespoon of jelly or honey, good to eat 1 hour before game. This will give you sustaining energy to get you going.
Cereal with skim milk
For a quick snack 30 minutes before game, low-fiber cereal with 1/2 cup skim or cashew/almond milk is a good choice. Both, cereal and milk, have carbs to keep you energized.
Small bag of pretzels will provide easy-to-digest carbs for fast energy. The sodium should help hydration. Choose pretzels that have about four ingredients listed (e.g. wheat flour, sugar, salt). No preservatives or other junk added.
Nut butter whole-grain sandwich
About 60 minutes before game, 1 slice of whole-grain toast with nut butter gives you the carbs needed for energy.
Low-fiber carbohydrates like saltines and crackers are a good choice to fuel when you have less then 30 minutes before a game.
Raisins provide potassium and iron with easily absorbed natural sugar to get you that boost of energy. Raisins and dates are a great alternative to sport chews. These are good when you have less than an hour before a game.
Low Fat Yogurt
Low-fat plain greek yogurt with berries is an excellent choice for boosting energy and supporting your muscles. This snack has vitamin D and potassium to support bone and muscle health specially if you just finished a game and getting ready for the next one in an hour.