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Healthy Snacks for Soccer Teams

Soccer requires a lot of energy; just ask any soccer mom! But, seriously, any sport that requires that much running is an endurance challenge. Snacking before, during and after the game is a large part of playing soccer. But how do you balance nutritional requirements, caloric intake and energy needs before, during and after the physical exertion?

"Fueling up" for the big game is, in some ways, as much of a science as the game plays themselves. We've all heard the stories about athletes who "carb up" before the big game. And perhaps there's something to be said for that approach. But, especially when it comes to youth soccer, we think there may be better ways to provide the necessary energy without sabotaging healthy habits.

Before and After

What you eat before a soccer game can have a large effect on physical readiness. But what you eat two or three days before the big game may have an even bigger effect on the score, according to at least one expert (Weyman, n.d.). Carbohydrates keep energy levels high, so it is not wrong to eat pre-game meals that are reasonably high in carbs and low in fat, but you don't want to neglect the basic building blocks, proteins, either.

Individual metabolism and personal physique vary greatly, so a meal that's great for one person may not be so wonderful for another. During strenuous activity, up to 80 percent of the blood supply is shifted to the muscles that are being used; because of this shift, digestion is slowed and a large meal eaten just before the game may just sit uncomfortably in the stomach.

Game day is also not the time for players to try new taste treats. Rather, mealtime favorites should be the fare; and moderate servings are better than super sizes. Athletes should always drink adequate amounts of liquid, preferably, clear liquids. Milk is not recommended, even for young athletes. Although you will want to provide a full meal for your young athlete at least a couple of hours before the game, a liquid meal might be in order closer to kickoff; consider hot soup, free of MSG and heavy ingredients, or a nutritious fruit smoothie.

Soccer Snacks

Traditionally, sideline coolers are stocked with oranges at elementary age soccer meets. It's true that the kids usually like them; oranges are nutritious and the natural sugar boost may favorably affect performance. At the very least, they're better than a lot of options, being both cooling and natural. But there are other choices that can be just as nutritious that also offer performance boosts.

Most kids love muffins, so a healthy muffin on the sidelines, along with a bottle of water, might be a welcome treat. A handful or two of salted nuts, or a serving of trail mix or homemade granola with healthy nuts, grains and fruits are easy to eat, especially if you supply a baggie or a plastic cupful for each of the young players.

Some additional and appropriate choices are:

  • Freeze dried banana slices
  • Whole wheat fig bars
  • Veggie chips
  • Veggie wraps
  • Pita or tortilla slices with hummus or peanut butter
  • Pretzels, either chocolate dipped or with a variety of dips

Healthy snacks are athletes, in some ways, actually more like mini-meals. Especially if a player is sidelined after active play, he or she will be ready to "chow down" with something other than a handful of nuts or seeds. Post-game snacks, whether you're celebrating or sad, can be anything from mini sandwiches to sweet treats. Some teams go out for pizza, and that's okay; but, you might suggest ordering thick crust with lots of vegetables rather than pepperoni with extra cheese.

If your team stays on the field, you'll want to give players food that fills them up, calms them down and gets them ready to sleep well. Potato skins with veggie toppings make a great choice; kids will love them topped with yogurt, chopped green onions and tomatoes, bacon bits and cheese. Alternatively, bring in soft tacos made with shredded chicken, lettuce. tomato and shredded cheese. Bring hot sauce and guacamole to be added to taste!

This is also the time to unpack the yogurt pops, the healthy brownie bars or the pudding with caramel sauce! While winning can be sweet, even the losers deserve a sweet treat. For more ideas, check out the recipes and snack recommendations below, as selected by our Health Nut and Registered Dietitian.

Recommended Recipes for Soccer Players

Searching for the perfect snack for before, during or after the game? Check out these recipes for lightweight foods that supply a sudden burst of enduring energy. And for more suggestions for your child’s soccer team- take a peek at our article on healthy snacks for kids.

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie {gluten-free, vegan}

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

For a quick snack before the game that is sure to supply a burst of energy, this superb smoothie offers an abundance of protein and natural sugars in addition to a healthy helping of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Ingredients: Almond milk, matcha green tea powder, hemp protein powder, almond flour, dried mulberries, pitted dates, flaxseed meal, ice cubes, stevia powder.
Total Time: 5 minutes | Yield: 4 smoothies

Homemade Granola Bars {gluten-free}

Homemade Granola Bars Recipe {gluten-free}

Many look to granola bars for a healthy snack in all circumstances, but store-bought varieties often contain artificial ingredients that can weigh you down. Go all-natural and feel the difference!
Ingredients: Dried mulberries, dried strawberries, raw cashews, organic peanut butter, ripe bananas, raw sunflower seeds, hemp protein powder, gluten-free rolled oats, chia seeds, flaxseed meal.
Total Time: 40 minutes | Yield: 12 76-gram bars

Quinoa Veggie Wrap {vegan}

Quinoa Veggie Wrap Recipe {vegan}

Serve a healthful, fresh food at halftime with these wholesome wraps. Each serving supplies an abundance of vitamin A, fiber, and iron- while the quinoa and wraps offer a superb source of energy in the form of natural starch.
Ingredients: Tortilla wraps, quinoa, hummus, fresh spinach, sun-tomatoes, shredded carrots.
Total Time: 30 minutes | Yield: 4 wraps

Banana Bread {gluten-free}

Banana Bread Recipe {gluten-free}

A restorative recipe with the redolent relish of banana, this delectable baked good offers a dense source of energy to replenish the reserves of exhausted players.
Ingredients: Overripe bananas, eggs, coconut oil, applesauce, almond milk, honey, vanilla extract, brown rice flour, coconut flour, walnuts, gluten-free rolled oats, baking soda, baking powder.
Total Time: 1 hour | Yield: 12 80-gram servings

References

Weyman, T. (n.d.). Pre-Event Eating: When and How Much? Retrieved February, 2016, from http://www.wcusc.org/docs/Travel/91G2/eating.htm