Load Up? Should Teen Athletes Eat Extra Carbs?

Lauren Sharifi, RD LDN

Q: Should my teen athlete eat more carbs before a game? What's a good pre-game meal?

A: Carbohydrates are a great pre-practice or pre-game fuel. They are easy to digest and provide a quick burst of energy to help your child perform their best during the game. Adding a small amount of protein or fat will ensure the snack lasts from the beginning to the end of the game.

Since most teens aren’t engaging in marathon style practices or games it’s not necessary to “carb load” but instead consistently eat carbohydrates throughout the day and days leading up to the game. This will help ensure their muscles are well fueled to be able to perform well throughout the game.

Try and plan meals and snacks in the home that contain a source of carbohydrates (e.g. bread, pasta, rice, cereals, starchy vegetables, fruit and dairy) along with protein and some fat and fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Here is a list of 10 great pre-game snacks to have available at home for your teen to pack and eat before their game or practice:

-Fruit and cheese sticks

-Granola bar made with nuts or seeds (e.g. Kind Bar)

-Whole wheat crackers and peanut butter (or other nut/seed butter)

-Yogurt with fruit

-Trail mix made with whole grain cereal, dried fruit and nuts

-Turkey or cheese sandwich

-Whole grain cereal with milk

-Hummus and pretzels

-Apple or banana and peanut butter

-Chocolate milk and whole grain crackers

Lauren Sharifi is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and food blogger at biteofhealthnutrition.com. Lauren works in private practice in Brighton at ASF-Peak Health and is passionate about helping individuals and families become competent eaters that find joy out of eating. Have a question for Lauren? Email BSPeditor@gatehousemedia.com.