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What Are Some Healthful Snack Choices for Athletes on the Road?

By Victoria Lien, Concordia College Dietetic Student

Does it seem like teen athletes are on the road traveling more often now that school sports have started?  Do they get hungry traveling from one game or match to the next? The following are some suggestions for traveling athletes.

Step No. 1. Plan ahead to ensure they have healthy foods available. “When preparing to tackle a sports practice or game, the best meals and snacks combine protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.”  When you choose snack foods for an athlete, try to pick vegetables, fruit, whole-grain breads and cereals, low-fat dairy or lean protein foods.  The snack choice should contain between 100 and 300 calories.  Good choices for a snack while traveling include the following:

  • Fresh fruit or fruit cup and graham crackers
  • Hummus in a pita
  • Granola mixed with low-fat yogurt
  • Vegetables and dip
  • Trail mix that contains nuts, fruits, and some cereal or pretzels
  • Energy bars, breakfast bars, and low-fat granola bars
  • Tortilla with shredded low-fat cheese and vegetables
  • Beef jerky
  • Popcorn

Step No. 2. Remember to hydrate. “Adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximize exercise performance and improve recovery time.”  If the athlete sweats heavily, electrolytes may also need to be replaced.  During an event, the best fluid to consume is cool water.  If the athlete needs other fluids during an event the fluid should not contain more that 6 to 8 percent carbohydrate.  Good choices during an event would be diluted fruit juice, Gatorade, or PowerAde.  Higher-carbohydrate beverages consumed during an event could cause cramping and nausea.  Depending on your athlete’s personal preference, the following are all great ways to keep hydrated before and after events.

  • Fruit juices (100 percent fruit juice is healthiest)
  • Fat-free or low-fat chocolate milk
  • Fruit smoothie (milk, yogurt, or juice blended with frozen berries, banana chunks)
  • Boost or Ensure
  • V-8 juice
  • Remember:   Water is the best choice

To get the best results, choose something familiar to the athlete.  Remember not every athlete will be able to eat the same pre-game/practice food and feel comfortable. Finally, athletes should not eat until they feel full.  The athlete should eat just enough to provide energy.

 

References

Clark, N. (n.d.). Sports Snacks: Food Options for Hungry Athletes. Active. Retrieved from http://www.active.com/nutrition/articles/sports-snacks-food-options-for-huntry-athletes/

Nutrition and Athletic Performance. (2009, March). Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Retrieved from http://eatrightpro.org/resource/practice/position-and-practice-papers/-position-papers/nutition-and-athletic-performance/

Sports Fueling for Kids Infographic. (n.d.).  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved from http://eatrightpro.org/resource/media/multimedia-news-center/infographics/sports-fureling-for-kids/

Sports Science. (2015). Healthy Snacks for Athletes. IronMan Sports Medicine Institute. Retrieved from http://ironman.memorialhermann.org/preformance-improvement/sport-science/nutrition/healthy-snacks-for-athletes/

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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