This week, it’s you on snack duty. That’s a lot of pressure. The whole team and, more importantly, their families are relying on you to provide the best snacks for their little soccer stars. Youth soccer players run between 2-4 miles a game and over tournament weekends they are running a whopping 10-15 miles a day. The average young athlete will need about 3,000 calories per day, it is essential to keep your players fueled and ready to play. You don’t want to be the parent that comes up short on snacks for the big game. Have no fear, we have some insight on what kids like and need after their match. Here are our ideas:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches: After a match, player’s muscles are exhausted and need to be replenished with glucose and carbohydrates. The jelly takes care of the glucose and the bread takes care of the carbohydrates. Whole wheat bread is recommended for any bread or grain product. Also nut butters provide healthy fat for your players.
Fresh Cut Fruits and Veggies: The less processed the better. Fruits and veggies not only provide carbohydrates but they are filled with fortifying nutrients that growing athletes need. A fruit salad containing oranges, apples and bananas is ideal. Not only are they nutrient rich but fruits and veggies help to hydrate and replenish lost water.
Chocolate Milk or Fruit Juice: Sport Nutrition studies have shown that soccer players are deficient in calcium, vitamin D and Iron. Chocolate milk is a classic favorite that contains these aforementioned nutrients. For kids who are lactose intolerant, fruit juice is another healthy option.
Turkey Sandwiches: A protein and carbohydrate boost is what an exhausted body needs, and a turkey sandwich will delight your tiny but mighty players. A heavier snack like this one would be recommended if no games are to follow the meal, or if they have plenty of time to digest the food (about 2-3 hours).
Bagels and Graham Crackers: A satisfying bagel or graham cracker boost carbohydrates and glycogen levels that fuel tired muscles. They are also easy to pack and no preparation needed.
Chilled Hard-Boiled Eggs: Eggs are rich in protein and are a tasty snack. They require little preparation and are easily transferred and distributed.
Chilled Water and Sport Drinks: Staying hydrated is paramount before, during and, especially, after a game. In warm weather, players can lose a lot of water and electrolytes from sweating. To properly replenish and hydrate, a sports drink is ideal. Sports drinks are specially formulated with sodium levels that allow the digestive system to quickly absorb electrolytes. Also serving drinks chilled will help cool off your kids and is more pleasant for them to drink in warm weather.
Chocolate: A small dose of dark chocolate will boost energy and serve as a treat for all their efforts!
These snacks should be given within a 45 minute window after the match. Feel free to get creative too, the basic needs for a post-game snack is high carbohydrates and high protein content. Just remember to avoid fatty, fried or processed foods for your young athletes.