Eating enough to support your training can often be a challenge, which is why snacks can come in handy to fill in the gaps in your nutrition and keep you going between meals. As a runner, snacks should do more for you than simply provide calories, they should be a source of nutrients that will support your training and recovery. Having the right snacks on hand when you need them is a simple way you can improve your health and performance. Follow these tips to help you snack smarter.
Snacks vs. treats
The first thing runners should do is to distinguish between what is a snack and what is a treat. Snacks are meant to provide nutrition to fuel your training. Treats can provide energy for your runs, but are less nutritious and so should be consumed less often. Runners can (and should!) include some of their favourite treats, like chips, candy or ice cream, in their diets, but more often should opt for snacks that contain a good balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats to give their bodies energy and help them recover after runs and workouts.
Plan around your runs and workouts
It takes some planning to make sure you’re fuelling properly throughout the day. If you know you have a track workout at 7 p.m. but your lunch break at work is at noon, make sure you have a snack on hand to eat at least an hour or two before your workout so you have plenty of energy to perform well.
Keep your snacks in an easily accessible place
Keep non-perishable snacks in your desk, gym bag, locker or car so you always have something on hand when you need it. Canadian dietitian from London, Ont., Jennifer Broxterman, recently wrote a blog post about her weekly ritual, which includes filling up a snack bucket of healthy items like fruit, mixed nuts and seeds, granola bars, hard-boiled eggs and other snacks that she takes with her to work every Monday morning. That way, she always has a number of healthy options to choose from throughout her week when hunger strikes.
Watch your wallet
There are a tonne of pre-made bars, powders and other snacks out there that cost a lot of money and aren’t as healthy as they make themselves out to be. While these products are helpful once in a while when you’re in a pinch, you’ll save a lot of money (and probably be healthier) if you more often choose whole foods like fruits, veggies, dried fruits, nuts, oatmeal, etc.