In my town it’s now expected that parents take turns bringing snacks for halftime as well as after the game. As I watched one of the moms at a recent game hurry around urging each player to take a banana during the break I wondered who started this bright idea. Did some kid, “bonk” during a soccer game and now we have a crusade to keep stomachs full during sports? Why can’t kids make it an hour without a snack? Is it helping or hurting?
The fact is regular exercise activity does not require a snack. A regular meal high in carbohydrates, fluids and perhaps electrolytes before sports is enough. Too little fluids or too many carbohydrates can cause cramping and other intestinal problems.
You only need food during exercise if you’re engaged in a long strenuous activity like a marathon or hard-core exercise for two or more hours. Then you’ll want to have easily digested carbohydrate rich foods like a banana, sports bar or gel for quick fuel for muscles.
After your work out is the time for protein. Muscles need protein for recovery and growth and the best time to receive this is after exercise. Don’t bother super sizing. Only 10-20 grams of protein is sufficient from whey, egg or glass of milk is good.
It’s most important to drink plenty of water during exercise. I like to drink-up before leading an hour class so I keep everyone moving without stopping. I noticed when I stop for three seconds others stops for 30 seconds. But everyone is different and many people need to replenish and cool themselves down.
Children are smaller and need to replenish their fluids more than adults. But stopping to eat in the middle of hard-core running may cause more discomfort then benefit. Perhaps we should wait until after the game to pass out snacks or not have one at all (oh my, did I write it out loud? Don’t shun me.). Why not teach our children good healthy habits and that it’s about the game and not the treats.