A question about appropriate snacks for the gym....

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Apr 16, 2011
So yesterday one of the owners of our gym was calling everyone to discuss that since the summer schedule started and the girls are working out for 4 hours they are letting them have a snack break. This schedule started Monday and I had hoped they would allow them to have a snack so I sent some fresh strawberries, pineapple, pistachios, and string cheese with my daughter (not intending her to eat all of that just so she could eat what she wanted!). Anyway, the owner said they are trying to get them to eat a protein based snack such as a protein bar or shake or something like pediasure. I told her what I sent on Mon. and Tues. and she was telling me how fruit is quick energy, etc. which I know but I thought if it was eaten with protein it balanced out the sugar. I am not crazy about the protein bars and shakes because a lot of them are loaded with chemicals and sugar and most of the ones that taste decent don't have much protein or calories.
I was not going to get into all this with her but just wonder what your thoughts are on this. I try to keep a healthy diet and avoid eating things I cannot pronounce so was kind of surprised they are promoting these forms of protein rather than more natural forms. I would rather my daughter get her sugar from fruit than from added sugar in a bar! Thanks for any input!


Proud Parent
May 26, 2011
Ontario, Canada
This is from our club handbook:

Foods not permitted in the gym or during training:
Chocolate bars/candy
Pop or caffeine drinks
Any foods high in sugar

Recommended for training:
Granola or granola bars (limit chocolate and sugar)
Water or watered down fruit juices

That being said, what I usually send with my daughter is fruit such as grapes, bananas, orange slices, strawberries, applesauce. Veggies like cucumber slices, red pepper strips, caesar salad. Crackers and cheese, pasta, ham and cheese sandwich, etc. I usually pack 4 or 5 different things and sometimes she eats it all and sometimes she only eats a tiny bit, then she will eat the rest on the way home.

She also has a good snack with protein before gym (about 1/2 to 1 hour before). A peanut butter or ham sandwich, a chicken and cheese wrap, yogurt, etc.

I have a really good article from our old gym about the amount of carbs/protein to have before/after training and it was based on the person's weight. I will try and find it.
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Apr 16, 2011
Thanks.....I was just surprised that instead of real food they want them to eat/ drink the protein bars and shakes. If she had said it was because it is quicker, easier, or something I would get it more than her implying it is healthier. I just don't want someone to say something to her if I don't send what they recommended b/c she is very sensitive about stuff.

Granny Smith

Proud Parent
Jun 21, 2007
I think protein from real food is far better than a protein bar or drink. My favorite protein snack for dd is beef jerky. She also likes peanut butter on wheat crackers, raw almonds and unsalted cashews. I would not change the snacks you are sending in, they are much better for your child than what the owner is suggesting (she'll get over it.)


I think what you sent was very appropriate.

If you don't want to get into a nutrition debate with the coach you could tell them that your daughter "has trouble" with some if the additives in the protein bars and shakes and "does better" with whole foods. You don't have to elaborate.
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Proud Parent
Sep 6, 2010
I think you sent a great snack. In my opinion, real, whole foods are the best choice and your line of thinking is right on. It sounds like you know quite a bit about nutrition and it may not be a bad idea to have a friendly discussion with the coach to explain your reasoning. We all can learn something from each other. If he's willing to listen, even if he disagrees, I think you have a valid argument and he needs to respect your healthy snack choices for your daughter.


Gold Membership
Feb 26, 2007
I love Larabars too, great raw food product and some great flavours.

I think you sent a great snack, I too do not buy junk snacks and prefer our food to be unpackaged and not filled with additives. I totally agree with telling the coach that additives do not agree with your DD, they do not need to know exactly what that means.


Proud Parent
Proud Parent
Jul 22, 2010
I agree... real food is better. I think nevertooold's suggestion was perfect.


I think you sent a fantastic snack. You have some protein in there in addition to the fruit so I don't get the issue.

All Chalked Up

Mar 15, 2010
What you sent was great. Just send her with a bit of white meat chicken or something if the coach wants them to have that protein so darn bad!

On a side note, I'd be careful about bringing nuts into the gym (especially peanuts), just because there are a lot of kids like myself who have very serious allergies and could get very, very sick or even die just by touching the stuff. Nuts on hands = nuts on apparatus. Even if there is no one in her class with a allergy, I bet there is a child with an allergy in a different class!
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Generally, I prefer to have the kids snack on vegetables or fruits. While, fruits, yes have typically lots of fructose; they allow a gymnast to get their energy back quick.

Something could be said for starchy carbohydrates as well.

I'm not as big of a fan of protein or fat because of how much blood is required to digest these. However, having seen gymnasts snack on protein or cheese, I have never seen any ill effects from it. Bare in mind, they typically aren't eating a lot.

I and a few boys and girls have liked milk, but again I have to be concerned because of how much blood is required to digest them in the stomach. You really have to watch the amount ingested because when one of my guys who was an avid milk drinker would drink too much, his workout would tank.

However, the nice thing about milk is it's been proven as an effective substance that replenishes due to loss of carbohydrates. As well it has a lot of calcium and the sugar is around 50-50 galactose and fructose.

I don't mind yogurt but I think most yogurt has too much sugar typically. Some of the greek yogurts on the market have less sugar and more protein.

I also used to keep boiled eggs in the fridge.

Generally what I keep for my gymnasts that forget snacks are:

granola bars
bananas, apples (yes I have seen the documentation regarding how much pesticides are used on them- strawberries and pears have this problem as well, I think) oranges, sometimes watermelon for hot days
nuts- I haven't considered the nut allergy issue. Either peanuts or almonds.
fruit jerky
boiled eggs
cheese - not the greatest but decent for those kids who are vegetarian as I've yet to come across a vegan gymnast
sometimes yogurt


Proud Parent
Oct 10, 2008
Coaches should be cautious about dictating snacks.

One time when my DD was six or a young 7 in a 3 hour practice, she was beside herself because the coach said they should bring just "a piece of fruit" for snack and so now I was not. allowed. to. pack. the balanced food I'd been sending. Well, yes if you want to hand me back spaced out devil hound that is a GREAT plan. I have had a similar problem with her dance teacher wanting her to come rehearse for 2 hours and then eat just something during break like "an apple" before another two hours before she gets released to me after performance. It just won't work. She needs to eat fat and protein if you want her to go another 2 hours for you.

I explained to her coach that she needed to eat and why, e.g., I try to feed her a meal after swim team practice but she is not always hungry then so that is why there is practically a full meal in her gym bag. She doesn't have to eat it if she doesn't want to but it needs to be there, and if she didn't eat most of it, I'd find she needed to eat it right away when practice was over or she started sassing me. The coach agreed and said DD was not the issue. She was reacting to a girl who would bring lots of junk food and then sometimes chuck it up during bars.

DD can scarf $5 worth of Taco Bell and immediately go into swim team or gym practice and bang out her sets like nothing. Not that we regularly do that but if a workout is right after lunch, I don't have to worry about her eating too much.

DS will start screaming about cramps.

Those of us who pay attention -- we know our kids.
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Club Owner / Manager
Mar 23, 2009
West Midlands, England
I agree with emorymom!
You know your children best.
Your snack was great, The coach should not dictate what you must send!
I believe the only time he or she should step in is if the snack is blatantly unhealthy - think 2 or 3 chocolate bars (It's happened at my gym!) Or if the parent is sending FAR too much (again, happened at my gym!)


Apr 16, 2011
Thanks everyone. Today I went and found some kids organic protein bars and stuck one in with her fruit and string cheese. When I checked her bag after we got home she had hardly eaten anything! LOL! Did not open the bar or the string cheese and only ate a few pieces of pineapple. Needless to say she was starving in the car and wanted nothing I had packed. Wanted "real" food and was very cranky until she got some! Only 3 days in and apparently already tired of the same snacks! LOL! I am not going to worry about it anymore I was just so shocked to get that call. Don't think the owner meant to come across how she did I am sure they are just not wanting junk brought in. I see lots of kids with goldfish and crackers, etc. As long as they don't make her feel bad I am good!!


My DD takes frozen gogerts (yougart in a push up pack). She also does the Yougart drinks and Yougart in general. Yes she loves Yougart LOL. Apple sauce is good. She also takes ganola bars or something like that. Frozen banana slices are good if you have some where to store them at the gym our gym has a fridge so they keep. Water of course and gatorade are required by her DR to keep her hydrated (we have had issues with that in the past) Any thing salty to replenish loss of salt. Soft pretzle is a favorite. Salad is a favorite, fruit salad

Sharp chedder cheese chunks with wheat thins she loves too.


Oct 4, 2009
If i was going to have a break i would bring nuts (although some places have rules against this) Dried fruit, Fresh fruit.

I went to a nutritional talk a few days ago and what they told me is that nuts are great as they have essential fatty acids and protein. They also told us that fresh fruit was great but not too much because sugar is the easiest thing to overdose on and carrots and hummus is really good and always a favourite :)
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