When the snack attack strikes, are you prepared to make healthy choices?
As an athlete, your calorie needs are ramped up slightly, which means proper meal planning should always carefully include healthy snacks. It is best to think of snacks as mini meals, with the goal of providing healthy foods that fill nutrition needs.
Therefore, athletes benefit most from choosing snacks that include two or more food groups to help them meet daily recommended intakes of all Five Food Groups.
The following is a list of easy snack ideas for athletes. Each snack provides a source of carbohydrate (energy for athletes) and includes multiple food groups to help round out an overall healthy diet.
- Cottage Cheese: Protein-packed and nutrient-rich, this commonly forgotten snack food can be served with a variety of mix-ins. Looking to add more fruit to your diet? Add peaches to a ¼ cup of cottage cheese. Or enjoy it with whole grain crackers (even your favorite flavored types) which can be a delicious way to scoop cottage cheese as an afternoon snack. Need more ideas for cottage cheese? We’ve got 10 creative uses for cottage cheese – try them all!
- Peanut Butter and Jelly with a glass of milk: Half of a peanut butter and jelly (or banana) sandwich served with a cup of milk dishes up whole grains, protein (from the peanut butter) and dairy. Adding banana to your sandwich brings this snack in at four of the Five Food Groups.
- Trail Mix: Mix a whole grain (granola, toasted oat cereal or pretzels) with a protein (soy nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, or peanuts) and stir with a tasty dried fruit for added flavor and a nutrient boost. Try dried cranberries, blueberries, mangos, apples or raisins - each are a healthy carbohydrate source and can be found in the bulk sections of most grocery stores.
- Yogurt Dip: Slice an apple, strawberries, or pineapple or grab some grapes and your favorite berries. Enjoy the sliced fruit by dipping it into a vanilla regular or Greek-style yogurt. Sliced fruits are even more tempting to eat when they are paired with a creamy yogurt. Fruit and yogurt both deliver carbohydrates, and yogurt is dairy product – providing protein as well as calcium.
- Muffins and a cheese stick: These Apple Oat Greek Yogurt Muffins are full of fiber – important for a healthy digestive system. Grab a muffin and a string cheese on your way out the door (or after practice) for a hearty snack that packs the protein and carbs needed for exercise recovery.
- Homemade Pita Pockets: Add shaved carrots, broccoli or cauliflower, diced ham and cheese to a whole grain pita. Enjoy cool or try heating in the microwave 1-2 minutes. Homemade pitas are delicious any time of the day.
- Smoothie bowl: You’ll find that there are endless possibilities with this snack. All you need is a good blender, a bowl and spoon, and your ingredients and toppings of choice. Let your culinary creativity fly!
- Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt’s high protein content makes it a perfect snack for athletes. Remember to choose a yogurt that provides some carbohydrate as well. Greek yogurt will provide energy and help fill you up, staving off hunger. Don’t like the taste quite yet? Opt for regular yogurt (it, too, provides protein) or try adding fruit, granola or honey to your yogurt for added flavor.
For more snacks ideas, visit WesternDairyAssociation.org/download/33-tasty-snack-ideas.
Athletes can train harder and perform better with proper nutrition. Visit WesternDairyAssociation.org/dairy-in-your-diet/sports-nutrition to read more about milk as an exercise recovery beverage and learn how to eat for peak athletic performance.