Top 12 Tournament Foods for Youth Athletes
Tournament foods supply energy and fluids and can come from a number of sources but not all of them are beneficial to your health. There are a growing number of people using energy drinks as a source of food energy but fail to realize that they are a very poor source. Whole food will always be the best source of energy and fluids for competition or training. Here are my top twelve food energy sources when heading to your weekend tournament.
Bananas: A great source of potassium, manganese, fiber, Vitamins B6 and C. They provide carbohydrates for energy to fuel muscles.
Oranges: Tournament foods need to be easy to eat quickly and oranges fit the bill. Loaded with 110% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, these are really popular with kids who eat them as orange wedges for a quick snack.
Strawberries: This tournament food packs a lot of flavor and healthy carbs without the high sugar content of drinks. Surprisingly, 8 strawberries has more Vitamin C than an orange.
Watermelon: Pre-cut them without the rind as a finger food snack that helps keep athletes hydrated. Watermelons are 92% water. They are a great source of lycopene vitamins A, B6 and C as well as potassium.
Cream Cheese Spread: If you choose wisely (low fat versions), flavoured cream cheese makes a good snack when combined with whole wheat or multi-grain bagels.
Greek Yogurt: Easy to find in the dairy aisle as individual cups that provide 10 g of protein and 12 g of carbohydrates but with less calories (less sugar, too!) than regular yogurt (around 90 calories). There are a wide variety of fruits that are added or you can add your own.
Babybel White Cheddar: Tournament foods need to be easy to carry and eat. Cheese packs fit the bill nicely. These are great little cheese packs that are wrapped in wax and are peeled to eat. They are fun for kids to eat and have 75 calories with 4 g of protein. Much like Greek yogurt, they come in different flavours as well.
Peanut Butter: Another spreadable topping that can be used with whole wheat crackers, bagels and breads as well as on apple slices. You can be like Elvis and eat in a sandwich with bananas.
Pretzel Crisps: Pretzel crackers are very good as a snack as they have salt which adds sodium to your diet to replace what was lost in sweat.
Whole Wheat Bagels: For breakfast or as a snack between games, eat them with spreads like those mentioned above. “Thins” are available in stores and have 6 g of protein, 5 g of fiber and about 110 calories of energy.
Baby Carrots: Carrots are a great tournament food that do not leave a mess behind. Baby carrots provide nutrients and are low in calories. They are a great source of beta-carotene that which boosts the immune system and over 15 minerals, phytonutrients, and vitamins.
Oven Roasted Deli Turkey: This is the best source of protein with 11 g and just 1 g of fat and 60 calories for 3 slices. Avoid red meats as they are slow digesting and should only be eaten late in the day to supply protein over a long night of fasting as you sleep.
This is by no means a complete list of possible tournament foods as there are a number of good choices that are easily digested and fun for kids to eat. Stick to whole foods as a part of a complete, balanced diet. Supplements are not a necessity for youth athletes.
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