Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Top Six Foods to Optimize Performance During All-Day Events

As a parent of a young athlete, you play a crucial role in ensuring their success on the field. Whether it’s a track and field meet or a regional match, providing the right meals and snacks can make a significant difference in their performance. In this article, we will explore foods to avoid bringing to all-day events and provide healthier alternatives to keep athletes satiated and energized throughout the day.

Avoid – Only simple carbohydrates

Kids participating in all-day events need a balanced intake of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. While processed snacks like gummies, granola bars, cookies, and pastries may offer a quick energy boost, they are not sufficient for endurance. These snacks can lead to blood sugar spikes and drops, leaving athletes feeling fatigued.

Instead: Plan the day’s meals around when athletes will be exerting the most effort. Prioritize simple carbohydrates in the hour before competition with snacks like granola bars, fresh/dried fruit, or fruit juice. For track and field meets with multiple races, post-race snacks should include carbohydrates and protein. Consider offering chocolate milk, which is an excellent option for refueling. For snacks a couple of hours before or after events, opt for larger options like almond butter and jam on whole wheat bread or a yogurt parfait with granola and berries.

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Avoid – Anything caffeinated

Caffeine can have a negative impact on young athletes. It can make them jittery, exacerbate nerves, and lead to an energy crash that affects their performance. Furthermore, most energy drinks do not contain appropriate electrolytes and can contribute to dehydration, especially in hot weather.

Instead: Make your own sports drink by diluting a single-ingredient fruit juice with equal parts water. Add a pinch of sea salt and a small spoonful of honey for a natural sports drink that will keep athletes hydrated and energized without the negative effects of caffeine.

Avoid – Fatty snacks

While pepperoni and beef jerky may sound like convenient protein snacks, they can be hard to digest and lead to gastric distress during strenuous activities. These high-fat and highly processed snacks won’t effectively fuel athletes as their glycogen stores deplete throughout the day.

Instead: Opt for easier-to-digest finger foods like pretzels, granola bars, fresh or dried fruit, or low-fat crackers during the competition. Save the higher-fat snacks like jerky for post-game recovery.

Avoid – Obvious Allergies

It’s crucial to consider food allergies when providing snacks for athletes. More than 6 million children in the U.S. have a food allergy, with peanuts, lactose, and gluten being common allergens. Always check for any known allergies among the athletes and follow any school or sports association rules and regulations.

Instead: If peanuts are a concern, consider swapping them with almonds, which are less likely to provoke an allergic reaction. Almonds provide vitamin E, iron, and healthy fats. Additionally, if you’re bringing milk products, such as chocolate milk, ensure you have a lactose-free option available.

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Avoid – Heavy desserts

Rewarding young athletes with heavy desserts like ice cream or cake after exercise can create an unhealthy relationship with food. It’s essential to model healthier eating practices and showcase that rewards don’t need to be food-based.

Instead: Opt for slightly healthier options like muffins with added fruits and vegetables, such as carrot cake muffins with actual chunks of carrot, pineapple, and raisins. Skip the frosting to keep it on the lighter side.

Avoid – Anything messy

Avoid messy foods that can stain or cause inconvenience during events. Coaches prefer that athletes stay clean and presentable while in uniform.

Instead: Choose options that come with their own wrappings, such as paper-wrapped bean and rice burritos with minimal sauce to prevent dripping. Remember to bring a roll of paper towels for easy clean-up.


Q: What should I prioritize in the hour before competition during all-day events?
A: In the hour before competition, prioritize simple carbohydrates for quick energy. Snacks like granola bars, fresh/dried fruit, or fruit juice are ideal choices.

Q: What can I offer as post-race snacks for track and field meets?
A: Post-race snacks should focus on carbohydrates, but it’s also essential to include protein. Chocolate milk is a great option as it replenishes glycogen stores and provides protein for muscle recovery.

Q: How can I make a natural sports drink for hydration during all-day events?
A: Dilute a single-ingredient fruit juice with equal parts water. Add a pinch of sea salt and a small spoonful of honey for a natural and hydrating sports drink.

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Properly fueling athletes during all-day events is essential for optimal performance. By avoiding snacks high in simple carbohydrates, caffeine, fats, allergens, heavy desserts, and messy foods, you can ensure your young athlete stays energized and focused throughout the day. Instead, opt for balanced snacks that provide a combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Remember to prioritize hydration and consider any dietary restrictions or allergies. By making mindful snack choices, you can help your young athlete excel in their sport. For more valuable insights, visit