TOP FIVE Benefits of Snacks for Young Athletes
With Hockey Snacks providing healthy fuel all over the Greater Toronto Area, I have a lot of parents asking me about the benefits of the snacks I bring for the players.
Being a Nutritionist for over a decade, and working with kids and families, I can tell you there are MANY benefits to the proper snack. Here are my top five:
It’s safe to say that kids have endless energy. But sometimes, especially when it comes to sports, they could use a little boost.
Kids usually participate in sports at busy times. Before or after school, or weekend mornings. Not a lot of time to have a proper meal with time to digest before heading to the rink, field, pool, etc.
This is why snacks can be so important to help our kids bridge the gap from school to their practice or game. Without anything in the tank, it can be hard to focus on what their coach is saying, or even finish a drill! Quick, easily digestible carbs are the perfect pre-game energy.
Sometimes it’s the little things that bring a team together. Making orange slice smiles or even just handing out a snack after a game and eating together can be a bonding experience for a team. You might find out something about a player that you never knew before or use this as a perfect time to discuss pre or post-game nutrition.
KIDS ARE ALWAYS HUNGRY. And if they’re anything like me, they can also get HANGRY. Let kids come to the game focused and ready to play, no hunger, no anger, no hanger.
Kids sweat and work hard when they’re playing a game they love. Aside from drinking water (which is my drink of choice), sometimes they need something a little more to help replenish electrolytes in their body. Bring on the fruit! Not to mention the role that protein plays in building and repairing growing muscles. Having protein within 30 minutes of intense exercise is the best way for the body to utilize this nutrient. Even a small amount of protein found in a healthy snack can make all the difference.
This is one of the most important reasons I like to introduce healthy snacks at a young age. Having young athletes associate healthy food with being active is the best way for them to form a lifelong habit that will benefit them throughout their athletic life and give them the energy they need to maintain a certain level of fitness.
If you bring your young player a donut after every practice, that will become a habit. There is nothing wrong with treats but if your kids are serious about playing sports, having the association between sugar and sports needs to change. Even if that means having a banana right after the game and THEN going out for a treat-maybe not every time, either.
We need to change the way we think about food and athletics for our kids. It’s a simple switch and can be as easy as bringing an orange into the change room every weekend instead of a cookie.
Snacks may not always be necessary, but if you’re going to fuel your little athlete, take a minute and think about what would benefit them most. It may seem like a really small thing, but trust me, it matters.
For more information or questions about snacks, please contact Seanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below!