It’s no secret how important it is for kids of all ages to be off the couch and involved in some activity such as a kids mud run. But what do they need to eat to stay energized throughout the training for a kid or family mud run and the acutal kids mud run?

Kristi King, senior pediatric dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says that “about one to two hours before children have a game or a mud run where they’re really physically active, they should sit down to a healthy snack.” She says the foods stay the same no matter what the activity, although the portion size will certainly be larger for high school aged mud runners than for their younger siblings heading off to particpate in there own boys or girls mud run race.

The idea is to fill your child athletes up—giving them energy—without making them feel sluggish during training or the actual family mud run.

“If the mud run course is small or will take you less than 60 minutes complete, usually carbohydrates are a good source for a good snack,” says King, because they are a fast source of energy and stave off hunger for a short amount of time. Of course, this doesn’t mean a whole pizza or marathon-prepping spaghetti bowls before a NJ family mud run is good idea. King gives examples of crackers, a “little bit of pasta” or a granola bar that isn’t covered in candy and frosting.

Portion size grows with the age and size of the child, but most of the time boys will need more carbohydrates than girls because they burn them off at a higher rate. Remember that a child’s stomach is about as big as his or her fist, and base portions off that understanding.

“If the mud run course is large or will take you over 60 minutes, we want to make sure we add a little bit of protein to those carbohydrates,” said King. “That protein will help sustain their energy so that they’re not going to run out of energy halfway through their kids mud run. You could add milk. A half of a turkey sandwich. A little bit of peanut butter with their crackers.”

Since most mud runs are in the morning, Yolanda Bergman, a Los Angeles-based certified nutritionist and head of the weight loss division at Epione Medical Corporation, says to think of filling breakfasts like “oatmeal with eggs” or “whole grain toast with scrambled eggs and turkey sausage” and light lunches like “healthy chicken tacos on corn tortillas” and sandwiches made with whole-grain bread.

Children need two to three servings of lean proteins a day, so it’s important to think of light items as snacks. Plus, Bergman says that fatty meals are harder to break down and make kids sluggish during the mud run race. “Some of the mud run obstacles need your child to be agile and strong to climb, so being sluggish is not an option.”

Calcium is always important for growing bodies whether those bones and muscles belong to child athletes or not. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reports that “Starting around age nine, young people need almost twice as much calcium” as they did when they were younger and that this continues to be a necessity until their late teens.

Eating or drinking calcium-rich foods and drinks before a mud run event is like a jolt to bones and muscles and can help prevent soreness after the kids mud run event.

Bergman says to keep it simple, that “Greek yogurt is one of the best foods on the planet.”

In order to avoid feeling lightheaded and woozy on the mud run obstacles or during the family mud run, King says it’s important to drink water beforehand. Not only will this help with energy and hydration, it will also keep blood sugar levels in check.

“The important thing is to avoid sugary foods and drinks before a kids mud run event,” said King. “Sugars burn off very quickly, so the kids’ blood sugar levels are going to drop.”

In some instances, King says it’s OK to use a drink with electrolytes before a family mud run—especially when the temperature and humidity levels are high or if your child is prone to sweating a lot. They offer a preemptive way to keep vitamins and minerals in the bloodstream as well as helping fight dehydration.

Beside choosing the right mud run sneakers or training for a family mud run event, eating the right food before a kids mud run will help you get the most out of your little mud runners.