Sports Nutrition for Young Athletes: 5 Pre-Practice Snacks to Try

Pre-workout snacks aren’t just for adults. Sports nutrition for young athletes is equally as important – if not more so. Why? Poor eating habits can lead to nutrient deficiencies, which can affect your child’s healthy development, academic performance as well as their ability to excel in their favorite sport.

So, what makes a healthy pre-workout snack for kids?

Thankfully, the formula is as easy as 1 + 1. Pair a simple carbohydrate with a lean source of protein. Simple carbohydrates are the ones that break down quickly in the body, such as the carbs found in fruits, vegetables and dairy milk. Lean protein sources include turkey, chicken and low-fat cheese or yogurt.

Need some snack inspiration for your growing athlete?

Time is tight enough, as you run from school to soccer practice to violin lessons and beyond. Coming up with the perfect pre-practice munchies every day may not always make the to-do list. Not to worry. With the right mix of carbohydrates, protein and minimal fat, these easy-to-prep, portable snacks will make your young athlete feel energized and ready to tackle even the toughest skill drills.

1. Oikos Triple Zero Greek Yogurt

This brand of Greek yogurt is loaded with protein and fiber for lasting energy. Plus, they come in a variety of flavors, including apple cinnamon, banana crème and chocolate. Let your little ones choose their favorite, and they’ll be more likely to dig in.

2. Small apple with 2-3 slices turkey

Turn this combo into easy-to-eat roll-ups. Kids love finger foods, and the convenience is hard to pass up. Not to mention, they get a perfect ratio of carbs (from the apple) to lean protein (from the turkey).

3. A fruit-and-veggie puree

You could make your own if you have the time. Otherwise, pick up the squeeze packs wherever you do your food shopping. Just be sure the ingredients don’t include any added sugars.

4. One hard-boiled egg with 1 small orange (or Cutie)

Eggs are a complete protein, offering all nine of the essential amino acids. Amino acids are necessary for muscle building. As you know, oranges provide tons of vitamin C and can curb any sweet tooth.

5. A small fruit smoothie

Pour about 8 ounces for the kiddos. You can always save extra for after practice or for the next day. Smoothies are a great way to sneak in veggies without the kids blinking an eye. Take advantage of the opportunity by adding a cup of spinach, kale or even frozen peas to the mix.

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About the author

Nicole Aucoin, MS, RD, LD/N

Founder, Healthy Steps Nutrition
Home of CrossFit HSN & HSN Mentoring

Author of Nourish & Healthy Kids Cookbook

Author of The Basics of Nutrition Coaching Course, CrossFit Preferred Nutrition Course

CrossFit Level 2 Trainer