Before and After the Big Game: Nutritious Snacks for Your Young Athletes

What your kids eat before and after a game makes a big difference in their performance and recovery.

Before the game
Your children haven’t missed a single practice and have been training hard. It would be a shame to make the mistake of not preparing for the big day by not eating the right meal or eating the wrong snack just before the game. The right snacks right before a match can maximize their performance.
But remember, what and when they eat also play a factor. Kids shouldn’t have a big meal just before a competition. Your kids should eat their last meal at least 3 hours before the start of their game. Dieticians advise that their meal should be between 500 and 1,000 calories to give them enough energy and not be too much to cause them to feel sluggish and bloated.
Good examples of a balanced meal before a game would be high in carbohydrates such as pasta, sandwiches, rice meals, potatoes. Your body’s principal source of energy come from carbs and digest faster than fat and protein which is why they are ideal for consuming before exercise or physical activity.
Here are some snack ideas for your kids 1-2 hours before a game:

•    Granola bars

•    Bagels with low-fat cream cheese

•    Bananas

•    Trail mix

After the game
While it is important for parents to remind their children to eat something before a game, kids rarely need encouragement to eat after. Understandably hungry, your young athletes are looking forward to post-game snacks.
Here are some snacks that your kids will not only enjoy but are also incredibly beneficial to them as athletes:

1. Chocolate milk
Chocolate milk has both carbs and protein and is the easiest way to refuel after a practice or big game. Scientists have even proven that this beverage has all the nutrients your body needs to replenish itself after exercising or a big game. The protein in the chocolate milk helps the muscles recover. But watch out for brands that contain added sugar.

2. Orange slices
Oranges can help prevent oxidative stress that can occur in your child’s muscles after the intense workout they get from playing.

3. Beef Jerky
Beef jerky is so flavorful and fun to eat that your kids will look forward to it after a big game. The best part is that it is packed with the protein they need to repair muscles and tissue.

4. Frozen grapes
Green grapes are an excellent source of electrolytes that will help your young athletes maintain fluid balance and muscle function. Kids will love these frozen treats after a game.

5. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches

Bananas replenish the potassium that may have been lost while peanut butter is so rich in monounsaturated fats that are great for the heart. Together they make a delicious sandwich filling that will have your young athletes satisfied but not feeling bloated.

Don’t forget to rehydrate your young athletes with plenty of water. There are other alternatives like coconut water or 100% fruit juice. However, if you feel pressured to serve sports drinks, pick one that has no artificial colors and are low in sugar.

Introducing your kids to well-planned post-game snacks is an excellent way to teach your children about how eating right and on time can help them become better athletes.