Fuel Up Before Practice
After school has let out for the day, most children stroll through the front door hanging their backpacks in the designated spot (or possibly dumping them by the front door for you to trip over later) and run for the fridge. Because lunch typically falls around noon and school lets out a few hours later, our growing athletes are starving and need that quick pick-me-up before heading back out the door to cheer practice. On those nights, time can be a major factor, depending on your commute to the gym and what time practice starts. Not only do you need something quick for your child, but it needs to be healthy, and convenient too.
According to sports nutritionist, Susan Kleiner, PhD, R.D., when fueling before practice young athletes must obtain the proper combination of carbohydrates and protein with minimal fats. Seek out carbohydrates that are digested quickly, combined with protein to sustain energy. Know that fats slow down digestion, and too much fiber can lead to cramping, so be sure to keep these at minimum. Pre-practice snacks should be consumed at least 45 minutes (preferably 60-90 minutes) beforehand, and ideally around 250 calories.
- Hard-boiled egg and crackers
- Yogurt with fruit and honey
- Medium apple with peanut butter
- String cheese with a handful of nuts
- Turkey sandwich on whole wheat
- Pretzels with grapes
- Smoothie with non-fat milk
- Carrot or celery sticks with hummus and pita
- Applesauce and string cheese
- Banana and cottage cheese
- Half of a wheat bagel and jam
*Tip* Pick a day of the week to prepare snacks in advance. Pair up snacks together (carb snack + protein snack, utensils if needed, napkin) into snack baggies and keep in a drawer in your refrigerator for easy access.
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