5 Simple Post-Run Snacks for Kids
Post-run snacks for kids are important. In addition to water, there are two post-run nutrients for kids: protein and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates help refill their empty energy tanks, while protein helps repair their tired muscles.
“In the human body, proteins are the primary structural components of cells and perform a few different duties,” explains Pete McCall, certified personal trainer. “The primary function of the protein consumed in the diet is to build and repair cells, including the muscle cells damaged when exercising to the point of momentary fatigue.”
When it comes to carbs, choose options like “nutrient-dense, fiber-rich carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole-grain foods,” as nutrition professor Jennifer Sacheck told U.S. News Health.
To ensure your child gets plenty of protein and carbs, prep easy snacks to have on hand. Eating these foods will help them repair their growing muscles while fueling them for the rest of the day.
Here are a few quick and nutritious options:
You may have heard this one before, and for good reason. “Because chocolate milk has a 4-to-1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, it’s the perfect combination to help with post-game muscle recovery,” explains Kate Berz, professor of sports medicine. The best part is: kids love chocolate milk!
To change it up, try this recipe for magic chocolate milk, made with peanut butter and banana. If your young runner can’t have dairy milk, check the protein content of your alternative milk. Most are low, like almond milk, which has just 1 gram per cup. Compare that to cow’s milk with 8 grams per cup, and goat milk, a high-protein cow’s milk alternative, with 9 grams per cup.
Protein smoothies may seem like a post-run snack for adults, but they’re perfect for young runners, too. While there are many ways to consume protein, smoothies are one of the best vehicles for kids. Not only are they easy to make and take on the go, but you can also pack them full of healthy ingredients.
In addition to protein, you can sneak in veggies like sweet potato, as well as some fruit for a punch of carbohydrates. Don’t forget to add flax seeds for healthy fats and omega-3s, both of which your growing kid needs as well.
For inspiration, check out these kid-friendly smoothie ideas.
Trail mix is an awesome post-run snack for kids because it’s so versatile. Making it at home allows you to tailor it to your young athlete’s tastes — also avoiding the additives and preservatives often found in store-bought trail mix. When made at home, you can even get the pickiest eater to dive in because you get to choose what’s included.
Keep these ingredients in mind:
- Protein base: Peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and roasted edamame.
- Sweetness: Craisins, dark chocolate, dried fruit (low- or no-sugar), banana chips, yogurt-covered raisins and mini marshmallows.
- Fun extras: Popcorn, candied ginger, coconut flakes, sesame sticks, Chex, bran flakes, whole-grain pretzels and whole-grain granola.
Kids love Lunchables. Instead of buying them pre-made, however, control the foods and ingredients by making them yourself. Here are a few fun combinations to try:
- Turkey, cheese cubes, whole-grain crackers and orange slices.
- Chicken, whole-grain pretzels, mini carrots and grapes.
- Tuna salad, whole-grain crackers, hummus and sliced strawberries.
Paired with finger-friendly fruit and veggies, your kid will get a delicious, well-rounded snack.
This delicious blend of carbs (fruit) and protein (yogurt) is an ideal post-run snack for kids. You can put it in a container to eat on the go, and there are plenty of options to please everyone. For example, if your child doesn’t eat dairy from cows, you can turn to coconut yogurt, almond yogurt, or sheep or goat yogurt — all of which pack a significant protein punch.
All you have to do is next is top it with their favorite fruit, like sliced strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. You can even boost the carbs with whole-grain granola that contains low sugar or no sugar at all.
Don’t underestimate the importance of well-rounded post-run snacks for kids! Keep these ideas in mind next time you’re at the grocery store or prepping for Girls on the Run practice. Your young runner will be happy, fueled and ready for their next big game or practice!