Soccer players and their parents are often looking for healthy snacks for teenage athletes to support your overall physical and mental well-being as part of your soccer player diet.
Eating a balanced diet that includes nutrient-dense snacks can help you maintain your energy levels, improve your focus and concentration and reduce the risk of injury. Snacks can ensure you’re meeting your soccer nutrition energy needs.
Additionally, balanced and healthy snacks can also aid in muscle recovery and repair after intense exercise, helping teenage athletes to perform at your best on the field.
Teenage athletes have increased energy and nutrient needs to support growth, development and physical activity. Therefore you’ll need snacks that are easy to prepare, convenient to carry and satisfying.
These snack ideas for teens will help you fuel your performance, recover faster and stay healthy.
Read on to for our teenager recommended snacks, personally reviewed by teenager athletes.
Why are healthy snacks important for teenage athletes
Snacks are an essential part of a balanced diet for teenage athletes. They help you meet your daily calorie and nutrient needs, especially if you have a busy schedule or a long gap between meals.
Snacks also provide you with energy and nutrients to prepare for or recover from a workout, game or practice.
Since teens have varied schedules and may stay up late or sleep in, you often miss “regular” meal times. So having go-to snacks and a plan for how to meet your energy requirements for your sports activity.
What makes a healthy snack for teenage athlete
A healthy snack for teenage athletes should include a balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your muscles and brain.
Protein helps you build and repair your muscles and tissues.
Healthy fats support your hormone production, immune system, and brain function. (1)
A healthy snack should also provide you with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help you fight inflammation and protect your cells from damage.
Some examples of foods rich in these nutrients are berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate.
Tips for healthy snacks for athletes
#1 Balance macronutrients
Teen athletes need a balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats) to fuel their active lifestyle.
Carbohydrates are important for energy, while protein is essential for muscle recovery and repair. Healthy fats are also key for overall health.
#2 Choose whole foods
Whole foods are more nutrient-dense and filling. Focus on snacks that contain whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. Add healthy fats to help you feel satiated and stay fuller longer.
You’ll get the boost from added fiber as well as the many vitamins and minerals found in whole foods.
You want to drink plenty of water throughout the day and eat snacks that are hydrating, such as fresh fruit and vegetables. Following games and practices, make sure you re-hydrate so you’re ready for the next activity.
Check out our sweat rate calculator to dial in your hydration needs.
#4 Plan Ahead
Teen athletes are often on-the-go, so it’s important to have snacks that are easy to pack and eat on-the-go.
Make it easy to grab the foods that you enjoy the most. Prep fruits and vegetables by washing and chopping the night before. Store foods in clear containers in the fridge so you can easily find what you want.
Keep fruits on the counter at arms reach so you can grab a banana or apple as you head out the door.
You can pre package and prep snacks in advance. Then store them in a cooler or insulated bag to ensure that you always have something healthy to eat.
PRO TIP: At our house we keep a drawer full of our teen favorites from granola bars, fig bars, applesauce, olive packets, pudding cups, oatmeal packets and more.
What are some healthy snack ideas for teenage athletes
These snacks are easy to prepare, convenient to carry, delicious and nutritious.
Combine high protein snack ideas with carbohydrates for a balanced mini-meal. Also make sure to keep cold foods chilled in a cooler or insulated lunch bag.
Check out these healthy snack ideas that you can make at home or buy from the store.
- Greek yogurt with berries: Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium, making it an ideal snack for teenage athletes. Pair it with some fresh berries and high fiber granola for added vitamins and antioxidants.
- Apple slices with almond butter: Apples are high in fiber and low in calories, making them a perfect snack for teens. Dip in almond butter for some healthy fats and protein.
- Trail mix: Trail mix is a quick and easy snack that can be customized to your liking. Mix together some nuts, seeds and dried fruit for a nutritious and filling snack.
- Hummus and veggie sticks: Hummus is a great source of protein and healthy fats, and pairs perfectly with crunchy veggies like carrots and celery and crispy whole grain crackers or pita chips for added carbs.
- Protein bars: Protein bars are a convenient and tasty snack option for busy teens. Look for bars that are low in sugar and high in protein, and avoid those with artificial ingredients.
- Smoothies: Smoothies are a great way to pack in nutrients and hydration. Use a combination of fruits, vegetables, high protein milk and protein powder for a filling and nutritious snack.
- Hard boiled eggs: Eggs are a great source of protein and can be a quick and easy snack option. Hard-boil a batch at the beginning of the week for a grab-and-go option. Pair with some whole grain crackers for a well rounded snack.
- Popcorn: Popcorn is a low-calorie and high-fiber snack that can be a great option for teens. It can satisfy a salty crunchy craving and may be a good option for a late night snack. Look for air-popped popcorn or popcorn with minimal oil and salt.
- Cottage cheese with fruit: Cottage cheese is a great source of protein. When paired with fresh fruit, it makes for a delicious and nutritious snack.
- Peanut butter and banana toast: Whole grain toast with a smear of peanut butter and sliced banana on top is a filling and satisfying snack. It’s a great anytime teen athlete snack that can be wrapped up and packed in your gear bag.
- Edamame: Edamame is a high-protein and high-fiber snack that can be enjoyed hot or cold. It’s a great option for teens who are looking for something savory, filling and salty. Pair with a bowl of brown rice with a drizzle of teriyaki sauce.
- Roasted chickpeas: Roasted chickpeas are a crunchy and flavorful snack that can be seasoned with a variety of spices for sweet or savory options. They are a great source of protein and fiber.
- Tuna salad on whole grain crackers: Tuna salad made with Greek yogurt and fresh herbs is a tasty and protein-packed snack when paired with whole-grain crackers.
- Apple chips and nut butter: Apple chips are a healthier alternative to regular potato chips. They are made by thinly slicing apples and baking them until crispy.
- Energy/protein balls: Energy balls made with nuts, dates, and oats are a great source of energy for teenage athletes. They can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for a quick and easy snack.
- Avocado toast: Avocado toast is delicious snack that is packed with healthy fats and fiber. Top whole-grain toast with mashed avocado and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add a fried egg on top
- Grilled cheese with whole grain bread: Grilled cheese made with whole-grain bread and low-fat cheese can be a filling and comforting snack for teenage athletes.
- Turkey jerky: Turkey jerky is a great source of protein and can be a convenient and portable snack for teens who are on-the-go.
- Fruit and yogurt parfait: Layer Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and granola for a tasty and protein-packed snack that is also high in fiber.
- Popcorn trail mix: Mix air-popped popcorn with nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate chips for a sweet and salty snack that is high in fiber and protein.
- Oatmeal with fruit and nuts: Oatmeal or instant oatmeal topped with fresh or dried fruit and nuts is a filling, fiber-rich nutritious snack for teens. You can also make overnight oats so you have your snack ready to grab right from the fridge.
- Roasted nuts: Roasted nuts are a crunchy and protein-packed snack that can be seasoned with a variety of spices for extra flavor.
- Rice cakes with nut butter and fruit: Rice cakes with nut butter and sliced fruit on top are a quick and easy snack that can be enjoyed at any time of day.
- Smoothie bowls: Smoothie bowls made with a variety of fruits and vegetables, and topped with nuts, seeds, and granola are a great way to get vitamins, minerals and fiber. You can make your own or buy frozen options.
- Granola bars: Granola bars come in a variety of flavors and textures, from crunchy and nutty to chewy and fruity. Whether you make your own or buy a pre-packaged bar, they are a good source of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.
Best teenage snacks for lockers and gear bags
Since teenagers are often on the go, opt for shelf-stable (non refrigerated) snacks that can easily pack in lockers, gear bags, desks and your car. This way you’ll have a snack whenever you need it.
- Granola bars, protein bars, energy bars
- Banana, apple, orange
- Fig bars, cereal bars, rice krispy treat
- Trail mix
- Whole grain crackers
- Animal crackers, graham crackers
- Dried fruit-mango, cherries, raisins
- Fruit snacks
- Sports drinks powders
- Protein powder
- Peanut butter or nut butter packets
- Beef or plant based jerky
- Dry cereal portioned in snack bags
Healthy snacks for teenage athletes are important to fuel your performance, recover faster and stay healthy. Balanced snacks should include a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats, in addition to vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Our top recommendations for healthy snack ideas for teenage athletes can be made at home, found at the grocery store or even at the gas station. These nutritious and delicious snacks are easy to prepare and convenient to carry.
Let us know your favorites.
Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND has over 22 years of experience in public health and nutrition. As a performance registered dietitian 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.