Energy to Fuel Physical Activity

Children should arrive at practices or games with enough energy to last them to the end. This energy would come from nutritious meals and snacks eaten well ahead of time. If this is the case, water may be the only thing children need during the sporting event.

Before the Game

Eating a few hours before activity will provide enough energy to prevent hunger. Encourage children to wait 2 to 4 hours after meals and 1 to 2 hours after snacks to engage in physical activity. This will give the body time to digest the food.

See the bulletin Snacks for the Home Field for pre-game snacks ideas. 

During the Game

Most children in community sports will not require a snack at half-time but they will need water. Children who drink sugary beverages or eat a high calorie snack can easily take in more calories than they burn. Also, food consumed during activity may cause stomach cramping.

When physical activity lasts longer than 60 minutes, most active children will need some carbohydrates to sustain their energy. Bites of fresh fruits are a practical solution.

After the Game

The end of the game is another important time for fluids like water or milk. Cookies, chips, and chocolate bars while sometimes brought to celebrate a game are poor choices for refueling. These foods also reduce the active child's appetite for a healthy meal or snack. Snack foods from the four food groups of Canada's Food Guide are best.