Best Healthy snacks for Runners

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.


HealthySnacksforRunners

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.

 

two things to remember when snacking as a runner:

1. You want to be sure you get enough protein in your diet. 

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 .

2. focus on consuming enough grams of carbohydrates

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).


why choose healthy snacks for running?

Snacking mindfully helps replenish energy stores, regulate blood sugar levels, and prevent fatigue.

These quick treats should consist of: 

  • complex carbohydrates like bananas for lasting energy; 
  • protein like eggs and peanut butter for muscle repair and recovery; 
  • good fats like nuts and seeds for steady energy release; 
  • fruits and vegetables for added vitamins and minerals;
  • and of course plenty of hydration. 

Proper fueling will make you feel energized during a long run as well as help maximize performance so you can reach your fitness goals.


Tips for finding healthy snacks for runners:

Always check the grams of sugar contained in one serving of the snack of your choice.

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!


Be sure to eat enough carbs

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.


it doesn't have to be low-calorie to be a good snack for you

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 shopping list

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. 


be sure to consistently meet your nutritional needs as a runner

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.


best healthy snacks for runners

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!


 1. Frozen Bananas Dipped in Dark Chocolate

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:

  • Cut a ripe banana into slices
  • freeze them until they're solid, 
  • dip them in dark melted chocolate, and 
  • let them cool before serving


2. Greek yogurt with granola

With Greek yogurt and granola as a snack option, runners have the perfect combination of nutrients to energize them before a run and speed up muscle recovery afterward.

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!


3. whole grain bread with hard-boiled eggs

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.


4. trail mix

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.


5. real food energy bars

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.

Some of our favorite brands are Kate's Real Food, Bonk Breaker and Jambar and Nature's Bakery Fig Bars.

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.


6. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and vitamin A. Enjoy with a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon.


7. popcorn

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.

8. oatmeal with maple syrup

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.


9. clif shot bloks

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. 


10. split nutrition (pb&j in a Pack)

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.


11. dried fruit

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.


 12. Veggie Wrap with Cottage Cheese

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:

  • leafy greens, 
  • cucumber, 
  • spinach, 
  • tomatoes, 
  • avocados -
  • whatever you prefer!

3. For an extra zing, top off with a drizzle of hot sauce or vinaigrette dressing.

13. chia seed pudding 

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:

  • mix up all the ingredients in a bowl, 
  • pop it into the refrigerator overnight, and 
  • top it with fresh fruit and you've got yourself a good snack ready for any time of day!


 14. Gummy Bears With Real Fruit Juice

Gummy bears are a classic snack that brings a smile to almost everyone's face.

Many traditional versions of these treats can contain artificial flavors, but fortunately, there are healthier options on the market.

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.


15. fruit leather

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!


16. peanut butter & honey sandwich

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.


17. rice cakes and Almond butter

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!


18. string cheese

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. 

Here are some of the best foods to snack on specifically after a long run! 


19. chocolate milk

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.


20. chocolate peanut butter protein smoothie

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:

  • 1 banana, 
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach, 
  • 1 serving of protein powder, (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of cacao powder, 
  • 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds, 
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, 
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 
  • enough milk, water or coconut water for your desired consistency
  • Blend and enjoy!

Bonus: Not only does this smoothie have a lot of protein, it also contains several grams of fiber from the chia seeds and flaxseeds!


21. honorable mentions for best snacks for runners

  • A little bit of peanut butter on a toasted English muffin
  • Fruit - especially those high in Vitamin C which helps to keep your immune system healthy especially as you are building mileage through long distance runs.
  • Another great option for a snack would be your energy or sports drinks of choice. In fact, if you are going out for a longer run and you want to eat something beforehand but you have a sensitive stomach that can't handle food before you run, drinking some of your energy drink is a great solution. In fact drinking your snack is the best way to quickly get energy absorbed in your body to use as energy for your running!
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Applesauce
  • Make your own muffins - I really enjoy making oatmeal, pumpkin, and zucchini muffins that contain healthy complex carbs and fruits and veggies without any processed ingredients or additives which are usually found in store bought pre-made muffins. Typically I will make a couple dozen and pop them in the freezer so they are ready for me whenever I want them.
  • Hummus and Veggies (or pita chips, wheat thins, whole grain crackers, etc.)
  • These Protein Popper/Energy Balls!


in summary

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).

Happy snacking!

 

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.


If you are looking for a customizable marathon nutrition plan?


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!

Get access to the EAT LIKE A MARATHONER Nutrition Course here!

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