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Healthy Snacks for Active Kids

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Most tuck shop-bought snacks like chips, cookies, sodas are very calorie dense and can be maddening for parents as those snack foods more like an appetite spoiler than nourishment post exercise. Many children don’t exercise vigorous enough to burn all those calories consumed and some of them experience a “blood sugar crash” or “melt-down” thereafter.

On the other hand, plenty of kids are doing a couple hours per day of vigorous physical activity and at more regular intervals than pre-Covid. For those kids, optimal fueling during and post exercise are very important so that their bodies can maintain normal growth and development. For most active kids, their snacks really matter as sports get more competitive and strenuous.

We know that young athletes perform better and feel better when they get appropriate nutrients and not just high sugar, preservative loaded snacks.

First Things First With Active Kids:

  1. Hydration is the first priority: Most kids will manage with drinking water and then eating at the next meal. But if that meal is more than 2 hours away, they need more fuel.
  2. Carbohydrates replenish what has been used during the activity.
  3. Protein repair and rebuild muscles that have been exerted.
  4. Minerals: calcium, iron, sodium and potassium should also be part of the post-activity snack.
  5. Most kids don’t need a snack post exercise. For most kids, hydrating with water and then eating the next meal is sufficient to sustain normal growth and development.

Rule of Thumb With Snacks for Active Kids:

  • Stick to drinking water. Use sports drinks for vigorous activity lasting longer than one hour.
  • When possible, stick to the normal eating routine of 3 meals daily with a snack in between.
  • Choose a snack that will supply calories and carbohydrates but also some protein, fibre and micronutrients.
  • After vigorous activity lasting longer than an hour, a protein together with a carbohydrate containing drink have lots of benefit to replenish stores.
  • Have a variety of snacks available: aim for fresh, in season produce where possible.
  • Add a packaged (processed/ store bought) product if needed; then check the ingredient list to make sure that there is <10g added sugar per serving and some fibre.

15 Nutritious Sport Snacks for Active Kids:

  • Fresh fruit: Bananas, Naartjies, Oranges, Apples, Watermelon slices, Fruit salad
  • Small tub of dried fruit: Raisins, dried Cranberries
  • A small 100% juice box
  • Sandwich with peanut butter and honey or a Sandwich with butter and marmite
  • Toasted cheese sandwich
  • A few mini bran muffins or a savoury muffin or a carrot & nut muffin
  • Small bag of nuts like peanuts or mixed tree nuts
  • Squeeze pouch of peanut butter
  • Trail mix
  • Shelf stable milk boxes
  • Popcorn
  • Biltong or Droë wors
  • A small tub of Whole grain cereal
  • Whole grain crackers with cheddar cheese or cheese spread
  • Plain Digestive cookies or yoghurt topped Digestive biscuits

7 Snacks To Pack In a Cooler:

  • Yoghurt cups and tubes
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Cheese omelet/ frittata
  • Cheese slices
  • Fresh fruit: Berries, Cherries, Pineapple, Paw paw
  • Snack veggies: baby carrots, cucumber, veggies and a tub of hummus
  • Frozen yoghurt or frozen ysies

There are plenty of bars on the market, but which ones are suitable for your active child?

Advantages of Bars:

  • Easy & portable
  • Can keep until next game if not consumed.

Disadvantages of Bars:

  • Some bars have the same amount of calories as a meal. It is fine to substitute a lunch with that calorie filled bar but not a great idea just before dinner.
  • Always check the list of ingredients: Usually plenty of stabilisers, emulsifiers, flavourants, colourants and sweeteners which are not appropriate for growing children.
  • Some varieties are more like chocolate or candy bars with lots of added sugar, salt and calories and without fibre and vitamins. Active kids do need carbohydrates for fuel but stick to bars with <10g per serving added sugar.

Commercial Products Recommended:

Futurelife Energize Pouch meal: contains 31g carbohydrate(of which 10g is sugar) and 215kcal per serving. It is also fortified with vitamins & minerals and contain 4g fibre per serving.
Futurelife High energy bar: 40g bar provides 150kcal, 23g carbohydrates, 5,7g protein, and 3,2g fibre. It is scientifically formulated with Moducare immune supplement and electrolytes.
Futurelife Protein Crunch bars: a yoghurt coated 40g bar provides 170kcal calories, 8g protein, 14g carbohydrates, and 1g fibre. It is formulated with Moducare immune supplement and electrolytes.

Racefood Farbar Endurance food bar: 30g bar contains 136kcal, 18,5g carbohydrates and 2g fibre. It contains no additives, colourants or preservatives.
Racefood Fastbar Quick energy real food bar: 30g bar provides 100kcal, 14g carbohydrates and 0,5g fibre. It contains no additives, colourants or preservatives


Try These Home-made Snacks Recipes:

Bran Muffins

  • 1 medium Carrot, grated finely
  • 1 medium Baby Marrow, grated finely
  • 1 cup Pecan nut pieces

Mix 500g Snowflake Bran muffin mix as per instructions. Add the grated carrot, baby marrow and pecan pieces. 

Bake in small muffin pan and freeze some for later. Store in airtight container for 2 to 3 days; can be stored in freezer for up to 3 months.

Banana and Oat Cookies

  • 1 egg 
  • OR 1 T chia seeds in 2T water
  • 350g mashed banana
  • ½ c flour
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • 1 ¼ c Oats

Whisk egg in bowl OR alternatively, Leave chia seeds for 10-15min in water to form a gel. 

Mash the bananas and mix with vanilla and chia/egg. Add flour and oats to form a sticky moist dough. Scoop tablespoon servings on a lined baking tray and bake at 180oC for 25-30min. Store in airtight container for 2 to 3 days; can be stored in freezer for up to 3 months.

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