Best Snacks For Runners: Put Away That Energy Bar And Choose A Truly Healthy Option

Hey there, fellow runners. If you’re looking to fuel your runs and boost your performance, you’ve come to the right place. 

As a certified trainer with 9 years of experience in the fitness industry, I’ve seen first-hand how essential snacks can be for maximizing your running potential. 

In this blog post, I’ll share my top picks for the best snacks that will keep you energized, focused, and ready to conquer any distance. 

Let’s lace up our running shoes and dive into the world of delicious and nutritious snacks that will take your runs to the next level.


  • For performance runners, fueling up with the right snacks before, during, and after runs is crucial to optimize performance and recovery.
  • Pre-run snacks should focus on easily digestible carbohydrates and a moderate amount of protein to provide sustained energy without causing digestive discomfort.
  • On race days and during travel, packing portable and familiar snacks ensures you have the fuel you need, and staying hydrated remains a top priority for optimal running performance.

The Science Behind Snacks for Runners

As a certified trainer with a strong background in fitness, I’ve learned through experience and scientific research that fueling your body with the right snacks can significantly impact your running performance. 

The science behind healthy snacks for runners revolves around nutrient timing and the specific roles of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in providing sustained energy [1].

Carbohydrates play a crucial role as they are the primary source of energy during exercise. 

Consuming carbohydrates before a run helps top up glycogen stores in your muscles, ensuring you have the necessary fuel to perform optimally. On the other hand, post-run carbohydrates aid in replenishing glycogen stores and supporting recovery.

Proteins are essential for muscle repair and growth. Including a moderate amount of protein in your pre and post-run snacks can help enhance recovery and minimize muscle damage.

Fats, while providing a longer-lasting source of energy, are best consumed in moderation before a run to avoid digestive discomfort. However, they become more beneficial in post-run snacks as they contribute to satiety and prolonged energy levels.

In addition to macronutrients, proper hydration is crucial for optimal performance. Electrolyte-rich snacks or drinks can aid in maintaining fluid balance and prevent dehydration during runs [2].

Pre-Run Snacks: Fueling Up for Success

Pre-run snacks for runners are vital for providing your body with the necessary fuel to perform at its best. As a seasoned fitness professional, I’ve witnessed the positive impact of well-timed pre-run snacks on my clients’ running performance. 

In my experience, a combination of easily digestible carbohydrates and a small amount of protein is ideal for pre-run snacks.

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for running, so choosing snacks that are rich in complex carbohydrates can help ensure you have sufficient glycogen stores to power through your run. 

Good pre-run snack options include a banana with a tablespoon of almond butter, a slice of whole-grain toast with honey, or a granola bar with no added sugars.

Adding a small amount of protein to your pre-run snack can aid in muscle repair and recovery during your run. Opt for a low-fat yogurt, a hard-boiled egg, or a handful of nuts to complement your carbohydrate-rich snack.

Timing is also essential for pre-run snacks. Aim to consume a great snack about 30 to 60 minutes before your run to allow for proper digestion and avoid discomfort during exercise.

Remember, finding the right pre-run nutritious snack may require some trial and error, so listen to your body and experiment with different options to discover what works best for you and fuels your success on the running track.

During-Run Snacks: Sustaining Your Energy

During-run snacks play a crucial role in sustaining your energy levels and maintaining performance during longer runs or races. In my experience as a fitness professional, I’ve seen how strategic fueling during runs can make a significant difference in athletes’ endurance and overall performance.

For during-run snacks, easily digestible carbohydrates are essential to provide a quick and accessible energy source [3]. 

Sports gels, energy chews, or dried fruit are convenient options that can be easily carried and consumed on the go. Aim to consume small amounts of carbohydrates every 30 to 45 minutes during longer runs to keep your energy levels steady.

In addition to carbohydrates, electrolytes are vital to replenish the minerals lost through sweat and maintain proper muscle function. Electrolyte drinks or electrolyte-enhanced water can help keep your body in balance and prevent dehydration and muscle cramps.

During-run snacks are especially important for runs lasting more than 60 minutes, but the frequency and quantity of snacks may vary depending on individual factors such as pace, weather conditions, and personal preferences. 

Experiment with different snacks for runners and timing during training runs to determine the best strategy that keeps you energized and performing at your peak during your runs.

Post-Run Snacks: Replenishing and Recovering

Post-run snacks are essential for replenishing glycogen stores, repairing muscles, and aiding in recovery after intense training sessions or races. 

In my experience as a fitness professional, I’ve witnessed the importance of providing your body with the right nutrients after a run to optimize recovery and prepare for the next session.

After a run, focus on consuming a combination of carbohydrates and protein to kickstart the recovery process. Carbohydrates help replenish glycogen stores, which are depleted during exercise, while protein provides the building blocks necessary for muscle repair and growth.

Great snack options include a banana with a tablespoon of almond butter, a whole-grain bagel with cream cheese, or a smoothie made with fruits, Greek yogurt, and a scoop of protein powder. 

These snacks provide a balance of nutrients that aid in recovery and promote muscle repair.

Additionally, don’t forget to rehydrate by drinking plenty of water or an electrolyte drink. Proper hydration is crucial for replacing fluids lost through sweat during the run and ensuring optimal recovery.

Timing is also crucial when it comes to post-run snacks. Aim to consume a tasty snack within 30 to 60 minutes after completing your run to maximize the benefits of recovery. This window of opportunity allows your body to efficiently absorb nutrients and kickstart the recovery process.

Homemade Snacks: DIY Options for Runners

Homemade snacks offer a fantastic opportunity for runners to customize their nutritional intake while avoiding preservatives and additives found in some store-bought options. In my experience as a certified trainer, I’ve seen that making healthy snacks for runners at home allows you to tailor them to your specific dietary needs and taste preferences.

One great homemade snack option for runners is energy balls or bars. You can easily make these with a mix of rolled oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and a touch of honey or nut butter to bind them together. 

These energy-packed treats are convenient and provide a balanced mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to fuel your runs.

Another DIY option is trail mix, where you can combine your favorite nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and even dark chocolate chips for a delicious and portable snack. Trail mix is nutrient-dense and provides a quick source of energy, making it a great choice for long runs or post-workout replenishment.

For a refreshing and hydrating snack, you can create your own fresh fruit and yogurt parfait using Greek yogurt, fresh fruits, and a drizzle of honey. This delightful treat is rich in protein and antioxidants, promoting muscle recovery and overall health.

The beauty of homemade snacks lies in their versatility and creativity. You can experiment with different ingredients and flavors to find combinations that suit your taste and nutritional needs. 

Preparing these snacks in batches will ensure you always have a convenient and wholesome option at hand, making your running journey even more enjoyable and rewarding.

Store-Bought Snacks: Choosing Wisely

Store-bought snacks can be a convenient option for runners, but it’s essential to choose wisely to ensure you’re getting the most out of your nutrition. 

In my experience as a certified trainer, I always advise my clients to read the labels and look for snacks with simple, natural ingredients and minimal added sugars and preservatives.

Look for energy bars that are high in complex carbohydrates and contain a good balance of protein and healthy fats. Avoid bars with excessive added sugars and artificial ingredients, as they may lead to energy spikes and crashes during your runs [4].

For on-the-go options, consider single-serving packs of nuts, seeds, or dried fruits. These snacks are portable, nutrient-dense, and provide a quick source of energy when you need it most.

Greek yogurt cups or drinkable yogurt are excellent choices for a post-run snack, as they contain protein and probiotics to support muscle recovery and gut health. Opt for plain or low-sugar varieties to avoid unnecessary added sugars.

When choosing granola or trail mix, go for options with whole grains, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits without added sugars or unhealthy fats.

Ultimately, the key is to be mindful of the ingredients and nutritional value of store-bought snacks. 

By selecting options that align with your running goals and overall health, you can enhance your performance and feel confident that you’re fueling your body with the best possible nutrients.

Snacking for Specific Running Goals

Snacking for specific running goals requires tailoring your healthy snack ideas to meet your individual needs. Whether you’re training for a marathon, working on speed, or focusing on recovery, in my experience as a certified trainer, I’ve seen that snacks can play a crucial role in supporting your objectives.

For endurance training, aim for snacks that provide a steady source of energy, such as bananas, energy bars with complex carbohydrates, and nut butter on whole-grain crackers. These snacks will help sustain your energy levels during long runs.

If your goal is to improve speed and performance, consider pre-run snacks that include a small amount of caffeine, like coffee or tea, as it can boost alertness and mental focus [5]. Additionally, snacks with beetroot or tart cherry juice can support improved endurance and reduce muscle soreness.

For post-run recovery, prioritize snacks with a good balance of carbohydrates and protein, like chocolate milk or a smoothie made with Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. These snacks can help replenish glycogen stores and promote muscle repair.

Suppose weight loss or weight maintenance is your aim. In that case, choose snacks that are lower in calories and higher in fiber, like fresh fruits and vegetables or a small handful of almonds. These snacks for runners can keep you feeling full and satisfied without adding excessive calories.

Ultimately, your snacking choices should align with your specific running goals and complement your overall nutrition plan. By being mindful of your objectives and selecting snacks that support your training, you can enhance your running performance and achieve the results you desire.

Snacking on the Go: Travel and Race Day Tips

Snacking on the go is a common challenge for runners, especially during travel or on race days. In my experience as a certified trainer, I’ve found that proper planning and smart choices are essential to ensure you have the right snacks when you need them most.

When traveling, pack portable snacks that are easy to carry and don’t require refrigeration, such as energy bars, trail mix, or individual packets of nut butter. These snacks can provide quick energy and keep hunger at bay during long flights or road trips.

On race day, stick to familiar snacks that you’ve tested during training to avoid any surprises or digestive issues. Pre-packaged snacks like energy gels, chews, or sports drinks can be convenient during a race, as they provide a quick source of carbohydrates to fuel your performance.

If you have specific dietary preferences or restrictions, research the available food options at the race venue or along your travel route. Many races offer a variety of snacks and hydration stations, but it’s always best to be prepared with your own snacks in case the options are limited.

Remember to stay hydrated during travel and race day. Carry a refillable water bottle and drink water regularly to maintain proper hydration.

Final Thoughts

In this comprehensive guide, I’ve highlighted the importance of snacks for performance runners, backed by scientific research and my nine years of experience as a certified trainer. 

Pre-run snacks fuel you up with the right nutrients, during-run snacks sustain energy, and post-run snacks aid in recovery. Homemade and store-bought options are presented, along with tips for snacking on the go. 

Tailoring snacks to specific running goals is essential, and with proper choices, you can enhance your running performance. I highly recommend checking out protein shakes for runners to supplement your energy needs.

Remember, a balanced approach to snacking ensures you have the energy and nutrients needed to conquer your runs and achieve your fitness goals. Happy running!







Hi there, I’m Kate Young and I’m a fitness coach from California, but I now live in Austin. I have been involved in so many different sports over the years, including swimming, running, athletics, gymnastics, rugby (yeas, you read that right), baseball, tennis, and so many more that I have lost count.

I just love competing in sports, but struggled to find the one that I would stick with. So, instead I decided to become a fitness coach as it allows me to work with so many different types of athletes.

I’ve also become heavily involved it diet. The reason for this is that I’ve seen too many athletes fail in their fitness goals because their diet didn’t support it. And I’ve seen just as many people fail in their diets, because their fitness activities weren’t effective.

A lot of my work has involved working up with college tennis teams where I have tailored some endurance type fitness programs. Tennis coaches are great at teaching techniques, but a lot of them struggle with general fitness levels.

And that’s where I come in. On this site I contribute to anything tennis, fitness and diet related, which will help you get to your goals quicker and with more ease. And if you have some very specific questions then why not reach out on one of the social media channels where all of us are very active.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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