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LiVe Well

Fueling Your Young Runner

By Liz Blike

Jun 8, 2016


So the question is, are you feeding your child properly? Here are a few suggestions for helping your child fuel for better recovery and muscle building.

The basics of eating a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner daily are your most valuable tool. Those foundational meals are the framework for a healthy athlete. The next foundational step is fueling before or after exercise. Think about your child as an engine or even a fire. You have to fuel the fire to keep it going. Kids instinctively want to grab something quick and easy before practice or a game. The key is to guide them to make good choices, poor choices often lead to poor performance. 

Suggestions for Pre-Workout Nutrition

Your child should eat at least 30 - 60 minutes before practice or game time. Keep it simple, a carbohydrate and a little protein. Carbohydrates are your main source of fuel and turn into glucose which is how we fuel our muscles. Without glucose, you will compromise your abilities and will feel fatigued. 

Serve these 3-4 hours before practice or a game:

  • Whole wheat toast with peanut butter, almond butter or sun butter with a little honey
  • Oatmeal with brown sugar and almonds + skim milk + banana
  • Low fat cottage cheese + apple butter + crackers + grapes
  • Turkey and Swiss sandwich + fruit+ sports electrolyte drink mix
  • Fruit and yogurt smoothie + granola

Serve these 30-60 minutes before practice or competition:

  • Piece of fresh fruit
  • Banana with peanut butter (or other nut or seed butter)
  • Half a bagel with jam
  • Whole grain pretzels

After practice or game time, kids, like adults, need to refuel. Aim to provide about 300 calories and eat within 30 minutes for best results.

Examples of post activity snacks or meals:

  • Smoothie with yogurt and frozen berries
  • Graham crackers with a nut or seed butter+ low fat chocolate milk + banana
  • Applesauce with string cheese
  • Trail mix
  • Bagel with low fat cream cheese and jelly
  • Whole wheat pita sandwich with veggies +low fat milk + pretzels
  • Rice bowl with beans, cheese, salsa, avocado + whole grain tortilla chips or a whole wheat tortilla

There are so many snack ideas for kids to enjoy before and after any activity. Remember, keep it simple and never try anything you haven’t tried before. Sometimes with pre-competition jitters, liquid snacks like a smoothie may be a better choice. During recovery focus on restoring fluids, electrolytes, and replacing the lost muscle fuel used up during the activity. The best rule of thumb is to begin your nutrition recovery within 15-60 minutes after practice or competition.

To learn more about nutrition for your little runner or yourself, call the LiVe Well Center at 435.333.3535 to schedule an appointment with one of our Registered Dieticians or visit our website to learn more.