Is time for us all to start asking: Team Snacks - Are they necessary? Here's what I mean...
There is a strong connection between kids who play sports and becoming healthy adults. This means that playing sports could lay a strong foundation for a healthier body, stronger self image and lifelong commitment to being active. It's a really good thing.
But there's something going on in the youth sports world that we HAVE to talk about -- over snacking.
Yes, it seems that "Team Snacks" are now an imperative part of playing youth sports. It makes sense, right? Kids are running around, sweating, burning calories--they need fuel. But how much fuel do they really need? And are we providing them the right kind of fuel?
Watch my latest TV segment to get my answers to these questions:
This TV segment was sponsored by BODYARMOR but this blog post is all my own work and words.
Calories In vs. Calories Out
The average kid playing a game of rec soccer for one hour is only burning around 160 calories. The average donut and 20 oz. gatorade is around 450 calories. That doesn't even come close to being an even swap. So instead of over-fueling our kids with empty calories that may or may not be burned off, let’s opt to provide them with nutrient-dense meals to set them up for success. Or, if they are playing sports for over an hour and do need a snack, let’s provide them with energy-sustaining healthy options.
Focus on a good start
As an example, let’s say your son’s swim meet is at 3 PM. Ensuring he is properly fueled at breakfast or lunch will prevent him from crashing later on during his event or feeling overwhelmingly starved after the meet. Healthy breakfast options might include peanut butter on whole wheat toast with a banana or a bowl of whole grain cereal topped with fruit. The meal leading up to the game, match or meet, which in this scenario is lunch, is the most important contributing food-factor to his performance. Aim for whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Think turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomato and avocado. Pair it with an apple or other piece of fruit and a cup of low-fat milk.
Team Snack Ideas
If you are going to provide team snacks, ditch the sugary-snacks and offer a piece of fruit and water or if necessary, an all-natural sports drink. Fruit is an excellent choice because it is going to provide sufficient energy-boosting calories from natural sugars all while packaged with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Other good snack choices might include whole wheat crackers, low-fat string cheese, raisins or low-fat yogurt.
What Really Matters
Perhaps one of the most crucial, and potentially easiest components of a young athlete's success is to incorporate more family meals into their routine. Research has repeatedly shown that the more meals families share together, the better the child will perform in school and truly in life. This one simple practice could ultimately help set up your child for lifelong health and wellness.
The good news is that it doesn't matter what meal you eat together as a family; you should just do it! You can learn more about family meals here.
My colleague, Sally Kuzemchack, of Real Mom Nutrition just released her amazing resource of the Snacktivist Handbook, which truly inspired all of this for me. She is challenging parents and teams to rethink their team snacks and gives you all the resources you need to do it. Definitely check it out!
So tell me what you think. Have you seen this going on in youth sports? I would love to hear your experience and what YOU think about team snacks.
For stronger athletes today and healthier adults tomorrow,