Need a quick boost of energy that will sustain you during your next long-distance run? Choose from some of the most satisfying, delicious snacks to get you through tough training sessions or races but avoid those that can make you sick or cause fatigue.
The key to choosing pre-training snacks to get you through workouts is to pick something that’s as whole as possible (minimally processed) that’s rich in carbs and contain a little bit of protein and/or healthy fat. That way, you’ll feel satisfied, have a quick boost of energy, and will be less likely to “hit the wall” during runs.
Pretzels or Wheat Crackers with Hummus
Choose hummus with pretzels or whole-wheat crackers as a carb-rich, pre-run snack to boost your energy level and sustain you long-term. The salt from the pretzels or crackers will come in handy when you’re losing sodium while sweating, and hummus is loaded with protein and healthy fat. You’ll get a quick boost of energy that’ll last, but won’t weigh you down or make you feel sluggish.
Fresh Fruit with Peanut Butter
The natural sugars in fruit are just what your body needs for a quick pre-race pick-me-up. You’ll feel satisfied and energized long term, especially when you add slower-digesting peanut butter or another type of nut butter to sliced fruit to boost the protein and healthy fat content of this delicious snack. Try adding peanut butter to banana slices, apples, or even pears!
What better way to curb salt cravings and get some extra energy-boosting carbs than by choosing trail mix to fuel your body pre-workout. Pick pre-made trail mix containing pretzels or Chex cereal, nuts, and dried fruit like raisins – or make your own mix using the same ingredients. You’ll be surprised at how long this healthy snack will keep your body fueled during runs. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests a pre-workout snack of two parts raisins to one part nuts when making your own trail mix.
Pick a refreshing smoothie the next time you’re getting ready for a training session. Your body will thank you when you’re hydrated and energized with a protein and carb-rich smoothie. Simply blend ice, soy milk or almond milk, Greek yogurt, protein powder, fruit, and nut butter to feel refreshed and ready to burn some calories.
Whole-Wheat Bagel with Peanut Butter
Bagels provide your body with some slower digesting carbohydrates, so your muscles will stay fueled longer when choosing this snack topped with peanut butter. This pre-run pick is one of the best ways to stay satisfied and energized during workouts. Many runners will swear by it.
Greek Yogurt with Fruit and Nuts
Try protein and calcium-rich Greek yogurt topped with fruit or granola and nuts before your next sweat session, suggests Mensfitness.com. The simple sugars in this snack will be your energy boost and slower-digesting protein will sustain you during longer runs. This nutrient-packed treat also works well as post-workout recovery nourishment.
Oatmeal or Cereal with Milk
Oatmeal or cereal with milk is a snack that’s sure to get you going and sustain your energy level. The complex carbs in cereal and protein from the milk are the perfect combination for athletes looking to stay energized and satisfied. But cow’s milk isn’t for everybody, so steer clear of it if it upsets your stomach. If this is the case, you can use almond or soy milk.
Peanut Butter and Jelly on Wheat Bread
PB & J is another carb-boosting, high-energy snack that may take you back to your childhood. It’s loaded with simple carbs, complex carbs, protein and healthy fats making this treat the perfect solution when you want something satisfying that won’t weigh you down. You can also try a peanut butter and banana sandwich pre-workout, which works equally well for a sustained energy boost.
Protein or Energy Bars
Need something quick and easy you can take with you when you’re on the go, or even pack to eat during long runs? Try energy bars with protein, or granola bars for a quick pre-race energy boost. Stick a bar in your hydration waist pack or training pack for runs lasting longer than one hour.
Rice Cakes with Nut Butter
If you haven’t tried rice cakes with nut butter (peanut, almond, or cashew butter), now’s the time. This snack isn’t heavy but provides you with sustained energy that’ll keep you going strong even during longer distance sweat sessions.
All of the pre-workout snack options above work well as post-workout pick-me-ups. Other snacks to try post-training include chocolate milk, cottage cheese with fruit and nuts, edamame, reduced-fat cheese with pretzels, veggies, fresh fruit, crackers, protein shakes, bean quesadillas, or tuna salad sandwiches.
Snacks to Avoid
There are some snacks you’ll want to steer clear of pre-race. This is because you’ll feel hungry soon after eating them or they’ll cause you to feel sluggish, too full, or even nauseous during workouts.
Greasy Fried Foods
Fried foods may hit the spot when you’re craving this type of food, but don’t do the trick as pre-race energy. Eating greasy foods before runs can weigh you down, don’t provide the right source of energy, and can make you feel sick during workouts. So, steer clear of these foods including fried chicken, French fries and other fried or fast foods right before you train.
It’s okay to have a large meal, as long as it’s nutritious, after vigorous training sessions. But, don’t do it right before your run. When your stomach is too full you’ll feel nauseous or get cramps while running and it can drastically reduce running performance.
Too Much Dairy
Dairy foods can make the perfect post-workout recovery fuel because these foods contain high-quality protein (and usually carbs) needed for muscle recovery after strenuous training. Many dairy foods work well when combined with higher-carb foods pre-workout. However, not everybody can tolerate large amounts of dairy foods, like milk or cottage cheese, immediately before running without feeling queasy.
There’s no doubt that sweets provide you with a burst of energy, but this quick pick-me-up is usually short-lived. You’ll likely crash soon after eating sweets as a pre-race snack. So choose something a little more nutritious that will sustain you for the long haul, and doesn’t run the risk of making you feel sick.
- 1 Pretzels or Wheat Crackers with Hummus
- 2 Fresh Fruit with Peanut Butter
- 3 Trail Mix
- 4 Protein Smoothies
- 5 Whole-Wheat Bagel with Peanut Butter
- 6 Greek Yogurt with Fruit and Nuts
- 7 Oatmeal or Cereal with Milk
- 8 Peanut Butter and Jelly on Wheat Bread
- 9 Protein or Energy Bars
- 10 Rice Cakes with Nut Butter
- 11 Post-Workout Options
- 12 Snacks to Avoid
- 13 Greasy Fried Foods
- 14 Large Meals
- 15 Too Much Dairy
- 16 Sweet