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Dec 03, 2020 / Sports Medicine

Refueling After Evening Practices: Helping Young Athletes Understand When a Snack is a Good Idea

There are a lot of “food rules” floating around. Many advise against late-night eating. While late-night eating may not be best for some, it is often a necessary part of a young athlete’s day.

After an afternoon or evening of training, a late-night snack is often the last chance to meet his or her nutrition needs for the day. This helps to ensure proper recovery from the day’s activities or to get a jump-start on fueling for that early morning practice the next day. If an athlete misses this snack, it could cause the body to pull from stores overnight or during the next morning’s practice, which can lead to decreases in muscle and strength. It can also leave the athlete running on reserves, which can lead to fatigue, decreased mental sharpness, decreased performance and, potentially, other health concerns.

When the Athlete May Need a Late-Night Snack
Encourage a snack when an athlete:
  • ate an early dinner and just finished a long or intense evening practice.
  • skipped dinner.
  • is not a big breakfast-eater, especially if there is an early morning practice the next day.
  • is trying to optimize his or her nutrition (example: recovering from an injury, improving bone health, increasing energy intake).
Late-Night Snack Ideas to Try: 
Making good choices that fuel help the athlete support optimal recovery and feel satisfied and energized for the next day.

Here are some ideas kids and teens are likely to enjoy:
  • Oatmeal made with milk or milk substitute + nut butter
  • Bowl of whole grain cereal with milk
  • Fresh fruit smoothie
  • Crackers and peanut butter
  • Glass of chocolate milk or cup of hot chocolate (made with milk)
  • A whole grain waffle topped with peanut butter + sliced strawberries
  • Greek yogurt topped with granola
  • String cheese + an apple
  • Banana + almond butter
  • Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread 
  • Pulled rotisserie chicken + fruit
  • Cheesy scrambled eggs in a whole grain pita
  • Whole grain granola bar + yogurt
  • Homemade pita pizza (pita topped with marinara sauce & mozzarella)
Learn more about choosing good recovery snacks after training.

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