It’s not rocket science. If you’re running, biking, or hiking a long distance, you need something to keep yourself going, which is why packing high-protein, nutrient-rich snacks into your diet is essential. To keep them going, many endurance athletes may choose to pound protein bars or gels, but there are added benefits to eating whole, raw snacks instead. So, before you reach for that processed, packaged snack, consider one of these easy and delicious options to keep your energy up and your body in peak performing condition.
Nonfat Greek Yogurt, Chia Seed & Blueberries – By itself, one serving of greek yogurt gives you about 20 grams of protein. Mixing in about a teaspoon of tiny, tasteless chia seeds not only almost doubles the protein in this snack, but it adds fiber, omega-3, and antioxidants. Top that off with some blueberries for taste, and your body will thank you for the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory boost.
Banana & Peanut Butter Toast – One of the best pre-or post-workout snacks, bananas are loaded with potassium and Vitamin B6, which helps to lower blood sugar, regulate digestion, and oxygenate your muscles. Eating a banana is also an easy way to replenish lost electrolytes and help your body recover from any type of physical activity. Pair this with two tablespoons of your favorite nut butter (I personally am a peanut butter fiend, but almond butter is another great alternative) to boost magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous levels at the same time. Combining the two on a slice of whole wheat toast gives your body a much-needed carb boost for immediate energy.
Hard-boiled Eggs – Everyone knows that eggs are packed with protein, but they’re also a great source of omega-3, which boosts your immune system. The fats present in the yolk are also a well-known anti-inflammatories, which will help relieve and heal your aching muscles. By hard boiling, this powerhouse becomes a fast and portable post-workout snack.
Nut Trail Mix – Vitamin-rich and protein-packed, any kind of nut is a great addition to your workout snack. Walnuts are especially beneficial for athletes because they have been known to lower cholesterol and promote heart health. Though you can eat them plain, most nuts are high in fat, so dietitians suggest small serving sizes. For example, one serving of walnuts is only seven nuts, which can leave you feeling a bit unsatisfied. Combat this by mixing your nuts with dried cherries or blueberries, which are both great sources of antioxidants, and have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Edamame – Big benefits come in this small, portable package. Sold in the frozen section of most grocery stores, edamame is a great, quick snack solution that is not only low-cal, but full of protein. Choosing this quick and easy option also provides fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and 20 percent of your daily iron requirement. Just stick it in the microwave for a minute or so, sprinkle with sea salt, and they’re ready to serve.
Hummus & Red Peppers – Hummus is made with chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, garlic, and spices. By combining all of these ingredients, hummus is a powerhouse snack boasting high levels of fiber, protein, vitamins, and heart-healthy fats. For dipping, consider raw red peppers. This vibrant veggie is full of Vitamin C but, unlike some other dipping options like carrots or pita, it also gives your body a Vitamin B6 boost. For athletes especially, B6 is important because it creates hemoglobin, which in turn helps your muscles get the maximum amount of oxygen, allowing them to last longer and recover faster.
Beef, Turkey & Venison Jerky – High in fat and protein, beef jerky is a favorite of athletes because of its portability. Most options come salted, which replenishes electrolytes as well as satisfies your need for a salty snack. For those of us who aren’t big beef fans, turkey and venison are leaner alternatives. But choosing any of these meats means benefits that some plant-based proteins don’t provide. For example, all jerky has higher levels of iron, which raises your hemoglobin and helps refresh the oxygen in your muscles. It’s also a great source of zinc, which is essential for protecting the body from injuries and infections.
What are your favorite pre- or post-workout snacks? Share them with us in the comment section below.