Most kids’ sports camps start in the morning often leaving a kid breakfast-free going into their workout. This is a problem because when you sleep at night your body burns through your dinner and night-time snack. By morning your body needs nutrition to jumpstart metabolism, replace some of the carbohydrate stores used up over night and give your body energy for a workout. Breakfast or “breaking the fast” is essential before a workout. The challenge is that many kids don’t wake up in time to eat a full breakfast and let it digest before they start running and jumping. No nutrition is good nutrition if it comes back up!
Giving your kids a dense, nutrient-rich snack of carbs and protein with some fluid will give your children energy to get their summer camp workout going. They might have to start with eating a small amount and work up to eating more, but just like they go to camp to get stronger and faster, they can learn how to eat more pre-workout too. They just have to practice. Here are 5 awesome pre-workout snacks for summer camp morning workouts:
- Old School PBJ: Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread/bagel can help give your kids a morning boost! Whole grain bread provides complex carbohydrate whereas jelly/honey provides a quick burst of simple sugar. Peanut/almond butter provides healthy fat and protein to help them have steady energy over the course of the workout.
- Protein Bar: For kids that have a finicky stomach, a protein bar can be a great choice as it typically does not sit “heavy” on their stomachs. Choose a bar with 30-45 gm carbohydrate, 8-15 gm protein and 3-8 gm of fat and lower in fiber. Pre-workout a nut-only bar may not be a good choice as it will be lower in carbohydrate so look for a higher carbohydrate bar for morning energy.
- Trail Mix: Trail mix that has nuts, dried fruit and whole grain granola can be a quick easy choice providing carbs, protein and healthy fat for less bites. Trail mix is dense in calories, so you don’t have to eat as much. Buy a ready-made mix or let your kids make their own; trail mix is a quick snack on the way to the workout.
- Nut-Free Snack: For kids that can’t eat nuts, trying something like a whole grain granola bar and beef jerky can be a good carb-protein choice. A lactose-free protein shake made with whey protein powder, fruit, honey, ice and water can be another good pre-workout choice.
- Homemade Energy Bites : Bite size and the perfect fuel, energy bites can get your kids ready for a morning workout. And the best part? You can make them in advance and have them ready for the week! Stir one-half cup of nut butter with one-fourth cup of honey until well-combined. Stir in one cup oats and one-half cup protein powder or non-fat milk powder. Add two to three tablespoons water and stir until well combined. You can also jazz these up with dried fruit, nuts, seeds, coconut and chocolate chips! Roll into balls and refrigerate!
Add 16-20 oz water or sports drink to this snack to help hydrate them. You can also add a piece of fruit to the above snacks if your child feels like they can eat both. Fruit provides carbohydrate, nutrients and fluid.
For more tips on fueling youth athletes, check my flipbook, The Sports Nutrition Playbook!