7 Healthy Pre-Game Snacks
During the school day, young athletes eat at a set time. Breakfast and lunch are consistent meals. But, then there’s soccer practice times impacting dinner schedules. On weekends, multiple game times can wreak further havoc on healthy eating habits. These pre-game snack ideas give soccer players the nutrition they need to stay energetic and focused.
You can’t eat too much before a game. You’ll only regret it. At the same time, you need some fuel to keep you going during the pressure of play on the field. That’s where healthy pre-game snacks come into play. The right choices can help provide you with what you need to keep up with, and even surpass, the competition right up until the final whistle.
1. Peanut Butter Sandwich
“The combination of healthy fat and protein, along with the fiber from the whole grain bread, provides the athlete with the optimal combination of nutrients to keep [him or her] fueled for a longer workout,” said Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, who works with the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans. He’s a “big fan of peanut butter and honey sandwiches on whole grain bread.”
Other easy Peanut Butter-based ideas include:
• Peanut Butter Banana Wrap
• Peanut Butter Raisin Strudel
• Peanut Butter and Apple Quesadilla
If peanuts are a no-go, you could try any of these options with an almond butter.
2. Fruit and Beef Jerky
Jerky is high in protein and sodium, which can keep you from cramping if you're sweating buckets. Meanwhile, the fruit is rich in carbs. Certain fruits are going to be better than others. Bananas are high in potassium and can help prevent cramping. An apple is high in sugar and has a moderate amount of fiber. Grapes or melon have simple sugars that will get you going when practice or the game begins.
3. Coconut Water and Protein Powder
This is a quick and easy snack solution. You can take a bottle of hydrating coconut water on the go with a scoop of your favorite protein powder in a plastic bag. Thirty minutes before you’re going to exercise, mix the two up to have an easily digested protein boost that is also high in potassium.
On average, a professional soccer player burns about 1,600 calories in a 90-minute match. — MLS
4. Yogurt drink, Turkey and Cheese Cubes
You don’t have to go for the high protein yogurt drinks if you also cut up some finger food turkey and cheese cubes. Prefer low-fat cheese. While cheese is a good protein source, full- or regular-fat cheeses made with whole milk containing 4 percent milk fat. Low-fat using 2% milk and no-fat uses skim milk.
5. Low-fat string Cheese and Pretzels
Don’t start a game hungry. This snack offers carbohydrates and protein without being too heavy. And notice, we’re encouraging low-fat cheese again. You could try peanut butter-filled pretzels for an added protein kick.
6. Fruit Salad and Graham Crackers
You’re going to get the carbs, fiber, and sugar benefits already mentioned from the fruit salad. Graham crackers, meanwhile, can be healthy if you pick carefully. They were actually created in the mid-1800s as part of a high fiber vegetarian diet called the Graham Diet. Look at the sugar content. A Graham cracker can be a low-fat cookie alternative (especially if you add peanut butter).
7. Cottage Cheese and a Granola Bar
When selecting your granola bar, read the ingredient list. Go for low fat and low sugar options. The cottage cheese packs a lot of protein as well as nutrients such as B vitamins, calcium, phosphorous and selenium. It also has a lot of casein, which is a slowly absorbed protein promoting muscle gain and preventing muscle breakdown.
Of course, a key assumption in this article is that a young athlete will actually eat these snacks. Letting them sit unattended in the bottom of the Queen City Mutiny backpack until they are found days (or even weeks) later won’t help. We suggest finding the snacks that you like and making it a habit to have one before every match. And, as always, don’t forget to hydrate!