10 great pregame snacks for your youth football player

By Janis Meredith | Posted 10/9/2017

Sometimes it’s all you can do to get your child out the door with all of his equipment and make it to the game on time.

In that hurry, it’s easy to forget about nutrition. But the honest truth is that nutrition should be a major piece of “equipment,” because children will not perform their best on an empty tank or on a tank filled with junk.

Your child should eat a pregame snack about half an hour before stepping onto the field. This snack should provide easily digested carbs, and perhaps a little protein and fat.

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Here are some simple pregame snacks that meet those requirements. Remember, snacks this close to game time should be carbohydrates you can easily digest.

1. Peanut butter and honey sandwiches

“I’m a big fan of peanut butter and honey sandwiches on whole grain bread,” says Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, who works with the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans. “The combination of healthy fat and protein, along with the fiber from the whole grain bread, provides the athlete with the optimal combination of nutrients to keep [him or her] fueled for a longer workout. Athletes are usually coming off a three- to five-hour fast right before practice and will need calories to get through a longer practice.” (Stack Media)

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2. Fruit

A quick fruit snack to top off energy and fuel the brain could include bananas (high in potassium), apples (high in sugar and moderate fiber)”, melon slices, or grapes.

3. Energy bar

Fuel up with some protein bars that have no artificial sugars.

4. Trail mix

Make your own trail mix with almonds, peanuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, dried fruit, and/or granola. Add dark chocolate chips, whole grain cereal, or light popcorn to change things up a bit.

5. Cottage cheese

Buy the low-fat snack size. Pair it with snack-sized canned fruit, tuna, or green pepper and tomato.

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6. Frozen fruit bars

Choose bars with fruit or fruit chunks at the beginning of the ingredients list.

7. Pretzels

Buy the salt- and fat-free kind.

8. Dry cereal

Choose low sugar options (no Cap’n Crunch or Frosted Flakes!) Eat alone or mixed with nuts, raisins or dried fruits.

9. Yogurt

Buy it plain or with added fruit. Add your own fruit or granola.

10. Carrot or celery sticks

Dip them in hummus and serve with a half a piece of whole wheat pita bread.

It takes planning

It’s not always convenient to give your child healthy snacks. Eating healthy usually takes planning and preparation. But it’s just as important for your child’s performance as practice.

“Proper sports nutrition is recognized as a vital building block in athletic performance,” said Leslie Bonci, a nationally renowned sports dietitian and Chief Nutrition Officer for Come Ready Nutrition. Don’t handicap your children’s performance; Give them – better yet, teach them—foods that will help them play their best.

Janis B. Meredith is a sports parenting blogger, podcaster, and life coach. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Learn more about good sports parenting habits in her book 11 Habits for Happy & Positive Sports Parents, available on Amazon.