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Kids health

Healthy Sports Snacks for Kids

A registered dietitian shares the best snacks for active kids.

Healthy Sports Snacks for Kids

Have you ever started your car and had your heart drop because the gas tank is almost empty? Or you have had an important call come in and realized that your phone battery is at three percent?

It happens to the best of us. Life is busy. But it’s hard to reach our goals without enough fuel or energy.

The same goes for keeping our family's bodies fuelled—something that's easy to forget when you're racing to your kid's team sports game or practice. It often feels like there isn’t enough time to make food, let alone eat it.

Before you stop for fast food on the way to your kid’s next baseball practice or grab a box of popsicles for a team snack, consider these quick, easy and delicious snacks for kids' sports.

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What nutrients do kids need before a practice or game?

Four girls in baseball tshirts have their arms around each other's shoulders. They smile. The girl on the left holds a baseball bat.

The goal of offering a pre-activity snack is to help our kids focus and perform well. To do this they need carbohydrates and protein.

Keep snacks low in fibre and fat, so they are easily and quickly digested. Foods that are high in fat and fibre take longer to digest. We want our kids to reap the benefits of their pre-sports snacks as quickly as possible.

Sports snacks for an hour before the game or practice

  • A tortilla spread with peanut butter (or alternate nut butter) rolled up around a banana
  • Greek yogurt with berries and granola
Healthy Sports Snacks for Kids

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  • Whole grain or veggie crackers with string cheese and apple slices
Healthy Sports Snacks for Kids

  • Whole grain toast with hard-boiled eggs and hydrating fresh fruit, like melon
  • Good quality granola bars from brands like Kashi, Simply Protein or Clif that have a solid amount of nutrition without much added sugar
Healthy Sports Snacks for Kids

  • Homemade Trail Mix. This is great for kids with small appetites as it is calorie and nutrient-dense. Mix almonds, cashews, pistachios, dried fruit (such as dried apricots, cherries, or cranberries), and a whole-grain cereal
Healthy Sports Snacks for Kids
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Sports snacks for 15 to 20 minutes before a game or practice

Even with a good snack beforehand, children and adolescents may need an extra boost right before their game or practice. The metabolism of active kids is often higher than we realize. So it’s important to offer snacks more often than you think is necessary. These can keep your kid's energy up throughout their game or practice.

Great options for about 15 to 20 minutes before an activity include:

  • Orange slices
  • An applesauce pouch
Healthy Sports Snacks for Kids

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  • Dehydrated fruit bar without added sugar
Healthy Sports Snacks for Kids

Do kids need sports drinks?

Healthy Sports Snacks for Kids

While the sports drink industry leads us to believe otherwise, water is usually enough to keep kids hydrated before, during and after an activity. On very hot and humid days when they are playing several soccer matches, offering a low-sugar electrolyte drink or sachet could help support adequate electrolyte balance.

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However, replacing all water with sports drinks packed with sugar, artificial colour and more electrolytes than kids need is not beneficial.  In some cases, it can be detrimental.

What nutrients do kids need after exercise?

Post-game snacks help to refuel, rehydrate and support muscle recovery. A quick, effective and affordable option? Chocolate milk.

Chocolate milk has the perfect ratio of carbohydrates to protein (three to one) for the body to recover well after activity. And in this case, the sugar in chocolate milk is beneficial, quickly refuelling the brain and body. Magnesium, calcium and sodium replenish electrolytes. If your child is dairy-free, try organic chocolate soy milk instead.

Serve one to two cups within 15 to 20 minutes after exercise. Then follow this up with a nourishing meal or snack about 30 to 60 minutes later.

When your child’s next game day is approaching, try these snacks and tips to keep your child well-fuelled for optimal performance and you feeling on top of your game too.

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Noelle Martin is a Registered Dietitian with a Master of Science in Foods and Nutrition. She is a mom of three active boys. Noelle has a passion for educating and inspiring others in areas related to nutrition and overall health. She specializes in areas of maternal and pediatric nutrition, sports nutrition and food allergies/intolerances. In 2019 Noelle released a cookbook for kids entitled Superfoods and Super Kids Cookbook. Noelle is the founder and president of Motherhood and Meals Inc. 

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