As an athlete, you’ll want to learn the best snacks for athletes between games to keep you going strong, especially during tournament play or two-a-day practices.
When you’re competing in several events a day, including two a day practices or back to back games on each weekend day, you’re faced with the challenge of fueling enough for play and for recovery. (1)
In this post, we’ve compiled a list of the best healthy snacks for athletes and tips on what works best when there isn’t much time between games.
With these snacks, you’ll be able to stay at the top of your game and perform your best, no matter how intense the competition gets.
What should I eat between back to back games
Between back to back games, you should choose snacks or meals based on how much time you have between events and how you’re feeling.
Since not every athlete feels like eating right after a game, you should eat foods that work best for you and avoid new foods on game day.
Some examples of quick and easy healthy snacks to consume between games include granola bars, trail mix, low fat greek yogurt with fruit, fruit smoothies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bagel and cream cheese, high protein milk and low-fat chocolate milk with a rice krispy treat.
Ideally, you’d eat a snack containing carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes to an hour after your first game. Because your body is most ready for recovery, the best snacks for athletes between games will be a high carbohydrate snack with some protein.
Snacks high in carbohydrates can provide quick energy, while protein can help repair damaged muscles and promote recovery.
Best snacks between games with less than 1 hour to eat
If you’ve only gone one hour or less between games or competition, stick to easily digestible high carbohydrates or sports drinks.
Some good examples for high carbohydrates are:
- Whole grain dry cereal
- Fruit snacks
- Granola bars
- Whole grain crackers
- Fig bars
- Rice krispy treats
- Pudding cups
- Sports drinks
- Whole wheat toast with jam
- Watermelon chunks, grapes
- Dried fruit such as mango and tart cherries
You can use our posts on pre game snacks and halftime snacks for more ideas because they highlight some of the best options for well tolerated foods when you don’t have a lot of time before game time.
Best snacks and mini meals between games-1-3 hours
When you have a little extra time between games, at least one to three hours, try eating a high carbohydrate food with some lean protein to create a mini meal. This mini meal will provide you with more energy and protein to help you recover faster.
Some examples of mini meals that are easy on the stomach include:
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole grain bread
- Tart cherry juice and protein bar
- Hummus and crackers
- Low fat greek yogurt with granola and fruit
- Bagel and cream cheese
- Banana and nut butter
- Grapes and string cheese
- Dried fruit, nuts and crackers
- Cottage cheese and peaches
- Deli meat, cheese and whole wheat tortilla roll ups
- Trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, chocolate
- High protein milk and crackers
- Smoothie with mango and low fat yogurt
Best snacks for athletes between games – three or more hours
After your game, you should aim to eat a regular high carbohydrate meal with moderate protein, following the athlete performance plate for game day.
Good post game recovery meals include:
- rice bowl with lean protein and veggies
- turkey sandwich and fruit
- waffles topped with nut butter and banana
- thick crust pizza with veggies and salad
- pancakes with berries and scramble eggs
- sandwich wrap with hummus
- veggies and tofu and egg sandwich with lean protein and fruit
- Chipotle burrito bowl with rice, beans, lean meat, fresh tomato salsa
Check out our post on pre game meal ideas for more suggestions for healthy meal options.
In summary, choosing the right snacks and giving yourself enough time to digest in between games is important for you to be your best on the field.
By choosing snacks that are high high carbohydrates and moderate protein within the first hour after the game, you can help repair and replenish your body for optimal performance.
Also, if you’re playing soccer in the heat, check out our recommendations to make sure you can play at your best.
Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND has over 20 years in public health and nutrition experience. As a performance nutritionist, Stephanie specializes in sports nutrition and provides simple and actionable information so that athletes can be well fueled for high performance on and off the field. Stephanie has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.