Why You Need a Healthy Snacks List for Sports

You Need a Healthy Snacks List for Sports to fuel the young athlete properly.

Healthy Snacks List for Sports

Wouldn’t feeding your young athlete be way easier if you had a go-to healthy snacks list to inspire you to create pre-game and practice snacks your child will eat?

We know healthy snacks are ideal for young athletes, but if you look around, there are more examples of unhealthy snacking than there are of snacks that truly fuel and satisfy athletes. Just take a look at the concession stand. Often, it is loaded with high fat, sugary foods that aren’t appropriate for competition.

Unfortunately, sideline snacks brought by well-intentioned parents are not much better.

Just the other day, a mom was describing the box of donuts her child was offered after her lacrosse game. Really?!

It’s no surprise that one of the most popular questions I’m asked by parents of young athletes is What should I give my child to eat before he goes to practice or a game?

It’s a great question. 

The answer is fortunately pretty simple: give your young athlete a healthy snack.

This question is so pervasive, it’s the reason I created this Healthy Snacks List for you…because fueling your young athlete shouldn’t be a mystery and it shouldn’t be difficult.

Want New Snack Ideas for Your Athlete? Click Here!

Insider Tips for Healthy Sports Snacks for the Young Athlete

While all snacks should offer up a healthy punch of nutrition for kids, even the run-of-the-mill after-school snack, the best snacks for young athletes are ones that:

  • provide easy to access fuel for the active body
  • are actually eaten
  • cover hunger and appetite

Here are a few key considerations when planning healthy snacks for your young athlete:  

1. Make sure key nutrients are included in snacks

The nutrients that are the most important for an exercising athlete are carbohydrates and protein.

Carbohydrates offer the preferred source of fuel for exercising muscles and protein is key to building muscle and repairing it after strenuous exercise. If you target these nutrients when planning athlete snacks, you’ll offer the fuel needed for optimal performance and help your athlete feel good while playing.

The presence of protein also helps the athlete ward off excess hunger

Snacks that contain just a carbohydrate source, like fresh fruit or crackers, are fine for shorter events or practices or even less intensive exercises, but they aren’t ideal for the young athlete who is exercising for over an hour.

You Need a Healthy Snacks List for Sports to fuel the young athlete properly.

2. When to offer a healthy snack (not every athlete needs a snack)

When do young athletes need a healthy snack? Again, this reflects on the intensity and duration of your athlete’s exercise schedule and routine.

Little soccer players who have a 45-minute practice may not need any additional sports snack outside of their regular meal and snack routine, while the high school basketball player or swimmer will probably need a more substantial snack.

My rule of thumb is:

If a young athlete is exercising under an hour in duration, he probably doesn’t need an extra snack outside of his routine meals and snacks.

If the athlete is exercising for over an hour, in an intense sport like swimming, rowing or running, plan a hefty snack, or even a 4th meal to cover energy needs for exercise.

Example: A rower who participates in an extended training session (two hours) may need a full sandwich and a glass of milk before practice, while a volleyball player, who also practices for a long time but at a lower intensity, may do well with a slice of peanut butter toast.

3. Always try to add nutrition

The question you should be asking yourself as you plan your athlete’s snack is: How can I add nutrition? 

There are plenty of foods around that are full of empty calories—meaning, they have calories but few to no nutrients. Hello candy, chips and dessert!

Simply said, these foods don’t add nutritional value to the growing athlete’s diet.

Instead, because you’re supporting the growth and development of your child as well as his athletic performance, you want to go for wholesome, real food. This will fuel his growth and his athletic performance.

The best foods to target include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, dairy, and healthy fats.

Need some new ideas for your young athlete’s snack plan? I’ve got you covered with my healthy snacks list for the young athlete!

You can grab the list of over 70 ideas by clicking on the box below:

Want New Snack Ideas for Your Athlete? Click Here!

What healthy sports snacks does your athlete eat to fuel his sport?

Learn how to properly fuel your growing athlete with my new program designed to teach and train your young athlete about sports nutrition. Check it out below!

Eat Like a Champion is a sports nutrition program for young athletes and their parents to learn how to fuel the growing body for a competitive edge.


Do you like what you see on The Nourished Child? If so, join me on my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, and check out my podcast, The Nourished Child!


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  1. I have a 6’7″ 16 yr old son. 225lbs. I worry he doesnt get enough protein. Heavy into sports, basketball and football. He can get picky and has a sweet tooth. He seems to eat normal portions, but what snacks are available that incorporate protein and are portable? He spends a lot of time at practices and cant refrigerate things.

  2. Hi Jill,
    I have a 10 year swimmer who’s is home by 8pm after a hour long swim practice 4 times a week. She eats her 2nd dinner when she’s home and goes to bed at 9pm. Is this much many calories too close to bedtime? Or is this ok since she is swimming is feels hungry afterwards.

  3. Hey Jill,
    Any way you can email me the link for the 70 snacks directly? Having trouble downloading, it keeps just jumping to the THANK YOU page and I tried two browsers, multiple laptops. would really like to print this out!

    1. Check your spam box! You should receive a separate email after the thank you post–depending on your security settings, it may have gone to spam.