Runner-friendly snacks

29 Mar

When it comes to cookies and candy, I really have no sense of moderation. I try very hard to stick to a small serving, but the inner cookie monster tends to take over and before I know it, the cookies are gone. I think I was born with a sugar fiend gene. However, there are times when I’m more able to manage sweets cravings and I’ve even made it for periods of time without cookies, desserts, and candy.

Then, there are other times when I’m all about the salty and carby snacks. This is probably linked to times when I’m sweating my sodium out more and need to replenish. Along with pretty much every other runner on the planet, the more miles I run and the harder I work, the more ravenous I feel.

With that said, I am always striving for balance in my snacking. At times I am more successful at achieving that balance and at others I eat a whole sleeve of thin mints or a whole bag of Swedish Fish.

Here are some better-for-me snacks that I enjoy regularly:


Sweet Potato Chips


Luna protein bars

TJ’s Sweet, Savory & Tart Trek Mix

I also try to mix in things like grapes, cheese and whole grain crackers, Greek yogurt, popcorn, and many others (like I said, I’m a snack fiend), but this post would become unbearably long and boring if I added a photo of every snack I ate. Unless you’re into that kind of thing.

There are many articles and blogs available on this topic full of suggestions for healthy and power-packed snacks for runners. Runner’s World tends to have a lot of tips and I found this article to be helpful for snack timing and portioning and this article for finding the right snack based on cravings. This is a nice list of options in PDF format from another website, so you can print it out and take it to the grocery store.

Basically, snacks should be small in portion (200-300 calories) and nutrient dense. (I actually prefer my snacks to be 200 calories or less because I like to save the bulk of my daily intake for meals and I am kind of a “grazer” and have little snacks at various times throughout the day.) Runner friendly snacks should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats (duh!). Post-run snacks should be more substantial, obviously, and have a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Since I’m not good at math, I’m all about finding out what elite(ish) runners are snacking on and what experts recommend.

BANANAS! The go-to runner snack found in bulk at nearly every race. Carbs, vitamin B6, easily digestible fiber, and simple sugars make it a good grab pre- or post- run.

Chocolate milk. It’s not just for little kids, you know. Keeps you hydrated, provides protein, carbs, B6, and calcium. Runners need strong bones!


Trail mix. Dried fruit + nuts + a little sweetness = snacky goodness. Be careful when buying a mix because you can end up getting more candy and salt than the healthy stuff. It can also be fun to make your own trail mix and “recipes” are easy to find.

Cereal with skim milk. According to RW, “one study found that people who eat a serving of cereal 90 minutes after dinner consume fewer calories daily than those who don’t have cereal.” Choose a cereal with high fiber, whole grains, and add some fruit on top for more punch.


Smoothies. Blending fruit with Greek yogurt or skim milk can give you a tasty treat full of nutrients. Add some protein powder to boost post-workout power. STUFT Mama has a lot of great smoothie recipes that you can check out here. You can also buy some Naked juices if you’re not into making your own.

Peanut butter (or other nut butters). Now, we don’t want to just sit there and spoon it out of the jar. It has some protein and good fats, but it is best added to a bagel, apples, banana, oatmeal,or in a smoothie rather than by itself. Pick nut butters with only the necessary ingredients and without added sugar, hydrogenated oils, and all that junk.


Other runner-friendly snacks include, but are not limited to:

  • Energy bars
  • Cottage cheese (cringe)
  • Oatmeal
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Hummus
  • Raw veggies
  • Low-sodium jerky
  • Fat-free popcorn

So there you go! If you are a snack fiend like me and are looking for ways to make healthier choices that will satisfy and fuel you without negating your hard work, try swapping out some of these options for the cookies. If you have other healthy snack suggestions or resources, please post them below!


One Response to “Runner-friendly snacks”

  1. Tina April 3, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Thanks for the healthy suggestions, I really want to try that luna bar!

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