Healthy snacks for runners

Chose your pre- and post-running snacks carefully to maintain energy levels and promote recovery.

Healthy snacks for runners

Spring, summer and fall are when most runners are focused on outdoor training and racing. Whether it is a road race, fun run or school-sanctioned event, food is important for both professional and amateur runners. Food is like car fuel, the better fuel you put in your body, the better your body will perform. While getting your daily physical activity, what snacks can you eat before running to sustain your workout and after running to promote recovery? Michigan State University Extension recommends some healthy snacks for all runners.

Before the run

Before running, it is important to boost your blood glucose levels and muscle carbohydrate storage. Not only can a healthy pre-run snack help delay fuel depletion during running, but also prevent hunger. MSU Extension suggests you try these healthy pre-run snacks:

  • Bananas: According to Dohle, Wansink, Zehnder (2016), they are a food with short chain carbohydrates and easier to digest before exercise than foods with a lot of protein. Blend a banana into a fruit smoothie for a tasty pre-run beverage. Another option is to pair a banana with your favorite nut butter for a filling combination of carbohydrates plus a little protein and fat.
  • Cereal with skim milk: Try topping your cereal with fresh, sliced fruit. This combination can provide you with essential vitamins and minerals while satisfying your sweet tooth. For a healthier option, choose cereals that have five grams of fiber or more per serving.
  • Fruit yogurt: like milk, yogurt provides plenty of calcium, protein and potassium, while being low in fat. Yogurt is highly digestible, which makes it a perfect pre-run snack.
  • Whole grain crackers with peanut butter: complex carbohydrates give energy and the protein and healthy fats from the nut butter help with satiety or the feeling of being full.

After the run

  • Chocolate milk: a glass of cold chocolate milk helps hydrate your body after the run while providing protein, carbohydrates and B vitamins.
  • Granola bars: This post-run, low calorie snack not only satisfies your sweet cravings, but also fuels you with B vitamins and iron.
  • Hummus on wheat crackers: this is a filling post-run snack, providing you with protein, fiber, vitamin B6 and folic acid.

MSU Extension offers education programs where you can learn about preparing healthy snacks and reading nutrition labels when grocery shopping. For more information, visit http://www.canr.msu.edu/food_health/index.

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