Top 5 Snacks for Hockey Players

When kids are having a snack attack, how do you get beyond the junk food to something satisfying they will actually eat? First, be sure you keep these 5 everyday snack foods on hand, in your car and in the hockey bags to quash the hunger before you end up succumbing to the lure of vending machines and convenience stores. Everyday snacks—that you eat when you’re hungry and it isn’t mealtime— play an important role in keeping energy levels up throughout the day and taming hunger. (Later, we’ll take on the topic of performance boosting snacks required before, during and after practices and games.)

The top 5 snacks for hockey players are:

5.      Go nuts for nuts! All nuts contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and are therefore a great choice for snacking. Each type of nut also contains a different array of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. And the best part about nuts? They are portable so you can carry them with you in hot or cold weather.

4.      Cereal. Opt for a high-fiber, low-sugar cereal for an everyday (not game time) snack and you’ll get plenty of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. In fact, for those who don’t eat red meat, cereal is one of the better sources of iron (although this source isn’t absorbed nearly as well as iron in meat and poultry).

3.      Dairy. Dairy is the number one source of calcium and vitamin D in our diet. This is especially important for growing kids, who are not only growing upward but are also building bone density (we build bone density up until our early 30s). Dairy also contains magnesium, a mineral important for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including muscle and nerve functioning. And, the benefits of dairy don’t stop there—dairy protein is among the top sources of protein for building and maintaining muscle tissue. Try yogurt, cottage cheese, low-fat cheese on top of crackers or apple slices, and, of course, milk!

2.      Vegetables. Most Americans only get half the fiber they need everyday. By incorporating vegetables at snack time, you’ll increase your overall vegetable intake, load up on fiber and get an array of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. If plain veggies sound boring, add a little natural peanut butter or hummus for a delicious snack.

1.      Fruit. Add as much color to your diet as you can and switch things up. If you typically eat watermelon over the summer, try berries in your yogurt or on cereal, make a power smoothie with frozen mango and mix fresh pineapple into cottage cheese. Why does fruit make the #1 slot? It’s loaded with carbohydrates—the nutrient that fuels performance. And, like vegetables, fruit is packed with vitamins and minerals that are important for overall health and performance. Some fruits contain anti-inflammatory compounds that could help decrease muscle soreness and bruising as well. These include pineapple (fresh), mango and dark purple, red and blue berries.

Load up on these healthy snacks and you’ll feel better, play better and improve your overall health.

Editor’s Note: Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS is a sports nutrition expert who works with athletes throughout the country. Her website is: www.mariespano.com

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