Snacking to load up macro and micronutrients before, during, and after your run should be part of your training regime. Healthy snacks ensure you don’t overeat and become bloated during your mealtime. They provide extra energy to keep you going especially if your run lasts for more than an hour.
It’s not a good idea to eat a new snack during the day of the competition itself. You might get stomach upset, gas or cramp since your body didn’t have the time to adjust. It is best to eat what you’re used to every day when you do your training. Choose snacks that work for you and what your stomach can handle well.
Whole food such as meat, fish, poultry, fruits, and vegetables are what you need to consume in-between meals. These are not ready-to-eat, so you need some creative ideas to turn them into healthy and delicious snacks and make you look forward to eating them.
Before you blindly dive into snacking, you have to make sure that you adapt your snacks to pre, during and post run. Abd certainly try out different options during training, not on race day.
To help you come up with some new ideas, I’ve listed out some of my personal favorites.
1 – Pre-Run Snacks
How long do you take your snacks before training or a race? It depends on your metabolism, one to two hours before is the ideal. For a short run, you may opt for simple food such as banana, apple, dry crackers, pretzels, and English muffins. For longer runs, you may pair them with other food to give you electrolytes and an energy boost.
Is coffee a good option?
Is coffee your go-to drink to perk you up in the morning? Sure, have your dose of caffeine. It acts as a stimulant to keep you alert. This should be included in your training too, so you know how much your limit is.
But be aware that caffeine does dehydrate yo, so make sure you balance it off with a glass of water.
Pretzels Or Saltine Crackers With Hummus
For a long distance marathon, you may choose pretzels with hummus. They contain complex carbs which take longer to digest. A 100-gram serving of hummus contains 14 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 2.4 grams iron for strength, and is rich in sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
The same is true with pretzels; they are great snacks packed with easy to digest carbohydrates, protein, sodium, iron, and magnesium. The sodium content is rather high, 1.27 per 100 grams. You can also pair hummus with saltine crackers which have a lower sodium content of 1.0 gram.
Here’s how I make hummus dip at home?
- 2 cups chickpeas, washed and drained
- ⅓ cup tahini or sesame seed paste
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp sea or kosher salt
- ¼ tsp paprika
In a food processor, puree the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt until smooth and creamy. Add water as necessary to achieve the desired consistency.
Transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with the paprika before serving.
Banana Peanut Butter Roll-Up
One serving of banana contains about 30 grams of simple carbohydrates, one gram of protein and is rich in nutrients such as potassium and magnesium. The peanut butter provides healthy fat, potassium, and the much-needed sodium. Choose all-natural peanut butter to avoid added sugar and hydrogenated oils.
One serving of whole-grain flatbread provides you with 43 grams net carbohydrates with 3 grams dietary fiber and 1 gram glucose. It gives you 16% of the daily value of iron and 4% of sodium. So your simple snack of banana and peanut butter becomes a source of more energy when it is rolled up in a flatbread.
- 1 flatbread, whole-grain
- 1 tbsp all- natural peanut butter
- 1 banana
Spread peanut butter on flatbread.
Cut one banana into thin slices and spread evenly over the flatbread, roll-up and cut in half.
2 – During The Run Snacks
When you’re out running, you don’t want to carry cumbersome or heavy snacks. You want them light and portable. When it’s no longer than one hour, there’s no real need to bring snacks with you, unless it’s a high intensity speed or uphill run. Your stored carbohydrates in the liver and muscles known as glycogen are generally enough to sustain you.
Best ideas for during-the-run snacks are dried dates or raisins, energy bars, nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, cashew nuts, and sunflower seeds. Or you can mix these nuts and seeds together to enhance the taste and get more health benefits.
Here’s a recipe if you want to DIY your energy bar.
Almond Quinoa Energy Bar
The crunchy almonds are combined with oats, almond butter, quinoa, maple syrup, and cranberries to make this a perfect snack bar to fuel your run. The quick-cooking oats are rich in, iron, potassium, and Vitamin B6. It is a bit low in sodium, but is balanced by the maple syrup which contains more sodium than honey.
One cup sliced almonds or equivalent to about 3.5 oz (100 grams) has 21 grams protein, 22 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams of which are dietary fiber and 3.9 grams are sugar. It is very high in magnesium, 67% of the daily values, 26% calcium, 20% potassium, and 20% iron.
Cranberries provide Vitamin C, 22 % of the daily value and also 12 grams carbohydrates, 4.6 of which are dietary fiber and 4 grams sugar. Quinoa increases the protein and carbohydrate contents and high in magnesium, manganese, folate, phosphorus, copper, iron, and zinc.
- 1 cup almonds, sliced
- 1 cup quick oats
- 1 cup almond butter, unsalted
- ¾ cup quinoa, cooked
- 1 cup cranberries, fresh
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1 tsp kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Line a 9-inch baking dish with parchment.
Us a large bowl to combine all the ingredients and mix until smooth.
Transfer to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer.
Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden.
Let cool completely, slice into 10 bars or your preferred sizes.
3 – Post-Run Snacks
When your breathing is back to normal, your body is recovering from the exertion and will need a lot of nutrients to repair. It’s time to fuel up again for the lost nutrients and minerals. If you feel like you can’t eat immediately, drink some fluid such as a light smoothie or protein shake to start with. Make sure it is rich in protein and calcium to repair micro-tears in your bones and muscles.
Strawberry Banana Smoothie
Strawberry banana smoothie is an alternative if you don’t want to take solid food. It has protein and Vit C needed for your recovery. Eight medium strawberries are about 100 grams and contain 97% of the daily value of Vit C. The Greek yogurt and skim milk give you a total of about 17 grams protein and also high in calcium for your bones.
- ½ cup skim milk, fat-free
- ½ cup Greek yogurt, nonfat
- 8 medium strawberries
- 1 banana
Mix milk, strawberry, banana, and yogurt in a blender until smooth.
Transfer in a glass with a tight lid so you can pack it in a cooler.
Salmon and Avocado Sandwich
Baked salmon has 20 grams protein, 172% of the daily value of Vit D, and 53% of Vit B12, and 30% Vit B6 per 100 grams. Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium while Vit B12 keeps the nerve and blood cells healthy as well as produce DNA and Vit B6 helps lower the inflammation caused by muscle strain.
- 2 slices of thick white sandwich bread, toasted
- 1 tsp virgin olive oil
- 3.5 oz (100 grams) baked salmon, sliced
- ½ avocado, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sesame seeds and sliced green onions for garnish
- 1 piece lettuce
Brush one side of the bread with olive oil after toasting.
Spread the smoked salmon and avocado slices evenly on top of the toast.
Drizzle with the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Cover with the lettuce and the other bread slice.
Put inside a Ziplock bag and store in the cooler.
Turkey Sandwich with Watercress and Apples
Roasted turkey breast has a slightly lower protein content of 29 grams than chicken with 30 grams per 100 grams. However, it has less cholesterol of 74 mg compared to 84 mg of chicken. So, when it comes to cholesterol content, turkey is a better choice. Watercress provides Vit C, Vit A and a slight amount of calcium.
- 2 slices white sandwich bread, toasted
- 3.5 oz (100 grams) roasted turkey breast, thinly sliced
- ¼ apple, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup watercress, thick stems removed
- 1 tbsp butter, melted
Spread the bread with the butter after toasting.
Stack the sliced turkey, apple, and watercress on top of the bread and cover with the other slice.
Place the sandwich in a Ziplock bag and store inside the cooler.
Some snacks with meat, fish, poultry, milk, and cheese should be kept in a cooler with ice to prevent spoiling. Ensure these foods are not exposed to the danger zone, temperature between 40°F and 140°F. The danger zone favors the rapid growth of bacteria that can cause food poisoning and make you sick.
Before you decide what snacks are best for you, you can also talk to a dietitian about your daily nutrition requirements based on your activities and body type. Then come up with the list of the amount and kind of ingredients, and you can substitute them or make a twist to the existing recipe.