Distance running is an intense physical activity and it's important to give your body the nutrients that it needs to complete a run successfully and promote a healthy running lifestyle especially if you are training for a marathon or half marathon.
If you're like most runners, you probably have a love-hate relationship with snacks.
On the one hand, they can be a great source of energy before, during, and after a run.
On the other hand, if you choose the wrong snack, it can end up being a major gut bomb that will make your run feel infinitely harder.
Choosing the right foods can sometimes be difficult so I've put together a list of the best snacks for runners.
If you aren't consuming enough grams of protein in your diet then you likely won't feel satiated in between meals and you will compromise your recovery after a long run .
You will want to focus on consuming enough grams of carbohydrates since carbs are the main energy source you use as a runner/marathoner/long distance runner.
If you are a long distance runner one of your main goals is to build and maintain muscle carbohydrate stores.
Consuming enough quality carbohydrates is the way to do this.
Most of the following snacks combine both protein and carbohydrates (in particular complex carbohydrates).
Snacking mindfully helps replenish energy stores, regulate blood sugar levels, and prevent fatigue.
These quick treats should consist of:
Proper fueling will make you feel energized during a long run as well as help maximize performance so you can reach your fitness goals.
It's all too easy to eat something that contains a lot of sugar which spikes your blood glucose levels and will leave you feeling as if you have no energy at all.
If you do choose something that has a lot of sugar (or something that you know will spike your glucose levels), then pairing it with a high protein food (or even healthy fat source) can help to reduce the sugar spike and leave you feeling better and more energized!
Carbs are the #1 fuel source for marathon runners and long distance runners. You need to be fueling with enough carbohydrates!
Don't worry, there are so many healthy foods that contain healthy carbs!
Just be aware that as a runner you do want to take in lots of healthy complex carbs.
Don't worry about only eating a low-calorie snack. If you're still hungry (be honest) then it is a good idea to have perhaps two snacks to keep you full and satiated.
You don't want to start out for a run with depleted energy as your run and performance will suffer.
Keep a list of your favorite snacks on your phone or wherever you keep your shopping list so that when you run to the grocery store you know exactly what foods you enjoy and you wont have to come up with snacks on your own because you can't remember.
You want your focus to be on your overall diet not just your snacks, therefore be sure to get plenty of protein, carbs, and fats in order to support all of your running!
If you want more information on this and would like to come up with a personalized nutrition plan, be sure to check out the EAT LIKE A MARATHONER Nutrition Course.
Snacks for running don't have to be complicated.
There are a variety of healthy snack ideas that runners can enjoy.
If you're looking for some quick and simple ideas to get started, I've got you covered!
Bananas are a great snack for runners as they are packed with nutrients and complex carbs.
They are a good source of potassium, which is an electrolyte that helps to regulate blood pressure and heart rate.
Dark chocolate can even improve athletic performance by increasing oxygen intake during exercise.
As a bonus, this snack also doubles as a treat - just make sure you stick to smaller portions since dark chocolate still has a relatively high-calorie content.
They're incredibly easy to make:
Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein and calcium that helps to restore muscles and provides sustained energy for running.
Granola provides complex carbohydrates for immediate energy plus dietary fiber for keeping you full until your next big run.
This nutrient powerhouse can be enjoyed on its own as a snack or even as a breakfast before hitting the road!
Whole grain bread is packed with complex carbohydrates and fiber that give energy and help provide sustenance until the next meal.
A hard-boiled egg is a great source of protein and combined with the carbs from the bread they make an ideal combination for a post-run snack.
Trail mix is a great snack for runners as it contains a variety of nutrient-dense ingredients such as nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and whole grains.
Trail mix is an excellent source of healthy fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Choose a trail mix that does not contain any added sugar and salt for the healthiest option.
Energy bars are a popular snack for runners as they are easy to carry and provide the body with a quick burst of energy.
However, it is important to choose energy bars with natural ingredients that are high in nutrients.
When you are choosing an energy bar, get into the habit of checking how many grams of sugar, protein and carbohydrates are contained in one serving so that you can be sure you are meeting your nutritional needs and not consuming what you don't want.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and vitamin A. Enjoy with a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Unlike many other snacks, popcorn is low in calories, so even if you end up having a few more than planned, guilt-free indulging is pretty much guaranteed! Choose high-quality kernels and try them air-popped or with a drizzle of avocado using a popcorn bowl.
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener that can provide runners with energy. It also contains minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Oatmeal is another excellent source of complex carbohydrates and fiber, both of which can help to give you sustained energy during your run.
Clif Shot Bloks are another popular choice among runners as they are easy to carry and consume on the go.
CLIF BLOKS Energy Chews give athletes a delicious, chewable source of energy to power them through their most challenging training sessions and competitions.
Their 33-calorie cubes are packed in sleek yet convenient packaging that makes it easy for athletes to tailor and monitor electrolyte intake during extended races or events.
If you are looking for more of the best chews for running then see this guide I created for you.
These squeezable packs are made up of wholesome real ingredients like raw almonds, organic fruit spreads, and natural nut butter.
Commit to feeling energized without the sugar lows or caffeine highs - each pack is free from added oils, fillers, and artificial flavors.
The fruit provides simple carbohydrates and sugar for energy, while the nut butter provides protein and healthy fats.
Dried fruit is packed with nutrients and fiber, and can help to replenish energy levels after a run.
Check the grams of sugar contained in one serving and choose dried fruit that is lower in sugar for the healthiest option, and avoid varieties that are coated in sugar.
Veggie wraps with cottage cheese make a delicious, nutritious snack.
They're quick to prepare and easy to customize for your taste.
1. Start by heating a wrap in the microwave or oven and gently spreading cottage cheese over it.
2. Then you can add your favorite fresh veggies:
3. For an extra zing, top off with a drizzle of hot sauce or vinaigrette dressing.
Chia seed pudding is becoming increasingly popular as a healthful and delicious breakfast option.
Made with simple ingredients such as chia seeds, plant-based milk such as almond milk, vanilla extract, and sweetener of choice, it's easy to make and absolutely delightful.
Its unique texture adds a special element for many who enjoy it - in addition to its numerous health benefits, chia seeds are a good source of fiber and omega-3s.
All you need to do when making this pudding is:
Gummy bears are a classic snack that brings a smile to almost everyone's face.
Gummy bears made with real fruit juice provide many of the same fun visuals and flavors and still satisfy your sweet tooth without the guilt.
Fruit leather is a chewy, fruit-based snack that is high in vitamins and minerals.
It is an excellent option for avid runners who need a quick burst of energy before or during a run.
Choose varieties where the only ingredient is... you guessed it...fruit!
A peanut butter sandwich made with whole grain bread is an excellent pre-run snack for runners.
Peanut butter provides protein and healthy fats, while the bread provides complex carbohydrates.
Honey is a natural sweetener that can provide runners with energy. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Rice cakes are a great pre-run snack for those with sensitive stomachs who don't want to weigh themselves down.
Perfectly light and easy on digestion, they can provide an energy boost that won’t slow you down - plus topping them off with almond butter will take it up another notch!
Famed for its fun-to-peel format, string cheese is much more than a tasty snack—it packs a powerful punch of calcium.
Perfect to satisfy the post-run appetite.
Chocolate milk is a delicious and nutritious snack for runners, offering the perfect balance of calcium to protect bones from impact plus energy-boosting carbohydrates to fuel mile after mile.
Smoothies are such a great way to get a boatload of protein and veggies in a delicious way!
You can really make smoothies in a variety of ways depending on your tastes and your favorite recipe.
I like to get a a lot of grams of protein in my smoothies by blending together:
Bonus: Not only does this smoothie have a lot of protein, it also contains several grams of fiber from the chia seeds and flaxseeds!
The key is finding easy snacks that are both fun and healthy so that it's something you'll look forward to eating, instead of dreading which contain a balanced amount of both grams of carbs and grams of proteins in order to provide energy and recovery inside of muscle cells especially after running long distances.
Most importantly, listen to your body - if you're craving something sweet or salty don't deny yourself - just make sure your macros are coming from nutrient-dense sources.
Once you find snacks that you enjoy make a list (or print or download this list of ideas!) so that you can easily reference and make a healthy snack choice as a runner.
As you can see from this list, I really favor and highly recommend snacking from whole foods sources versus more processed foods such as protein bars which aren't the best option and usually contain a lot of sugar and other additives.
However if you are looking for a quick snack recommendation which you can buy from a store, choose something that contains ingredients that you know and understand such as fruit, veggies, berries or even a packaged energy bar such as Nature's Bakery Fig Bars (which contains real food and are a great source of complex carbohydrates and fiber).
If you are looking for foods specific to carb loading in order to build glycogen stores, check out my 3 Day Carb Loading Meal Ideas.
The Ultimate Guide to eating and fueling for marathon training and racing success! + get access and develop your own personalized marathon nutrition plan to implement before your marathon with our 9 STEP Prep Plan!
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