Whether you are a growing child, an athlete who wants that competitive edge or an adult who wants to perform at their best, snacks fill the gap in between mealtime. It is important to have a balance of nutrient-rich carbohydrates, quality protein, and vitamins and minerals like calcium and iron to get enough calories to meet your overall energy needs and keep fuel in the tank. You don’t need extra vitamins, minerals or supplements – you just need to eat the right foods.
Remember to start your day with a good breakfast and don’t skip meals! Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all five food groups and meeting your overall energy needs are key to health, growth and performance. Below are a few tips for achieving your daily goals.
Carbs = Fuel
Carbs are a primary fuel source during exercise and play, so eat nutrient-rich carbohydrates such as fruit, starchy veggies, whole grains and low fat dairy foods like milk.
Protein Builds Muscle
Eat lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, low fat and fat free dairy, lentils, nuts, nut butter such as peanut butter or almond butter, soy foods, veggie burgers and edamame. Protein builds and maintains muscle and helps muscles recover after exercise.
Dairy = Nutrients
Drink low fat or fat free white or chocolate milk (it can also be lactose-free). Eat yogurt and low fat cheese throughout your life for essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium and vitamin D for building bones and refueling. Drinking milk provides protein and helps replace fluids – replenish with a glass after exercise!
Fluids = Performance
Fluids help you maintain performance, so listen to your body, know your sense of thirst and drink water to stay hydrated.
To meet your nutrient needs in between meals, try some of these snack ideas:
- Fruit and low fat string cheese
- Fruit smoothie made with low fat or fat free yogurt or milk
- Vegetables and hummus
- Lowfat or fat-free chocolate milk (or lactose-free chocolate milk) and banana
- Yogurt and fruit or low fat granola
- Turkey and veggies in a whole wheat pita
- Lowfat cheese and crackers
- Whole grain cereal and milk
- Celery and peanut butter
- Graham crackers and peanut butter
For more snack suggestions, check out these seasonal snack pairings or snacks inspired by a variety of cultural foods.