Choosing the right snacks can make all the difference when optimising your athletic performance. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting your fitness journey, incorporating healthy snacks into your routine keeps you energised and ready for action.
In this article, we’ll explore the world of healthy snacks for athletes, offering valuable tips for pre-, during, and post-exercise nutrition.
Healthy Snacks for Satiety
Focus on delicious and nutritious snacks to sustain your energy levels between meals. Athletes, in particular, benefit from snacks that provide lasting satiety. Here are some key elements to consider:
Protein-rich foods are your go-to choice. These foods digest slowly and keep you feeling full for an extended period. Incorporate sources of protein into your snacks to boost satiety. Consider options such as lean meat, chicken, fish (including tinned tuna and salmon), eggs, beans, lentils, dairy products (e.g., yogurt, cheese, milk), and nuts.
In addition to protein, fibre-rich foods should also be part of your snacking strategy. Fibre fills your stomach and digests slowly, helping you stay fuller for longer. Include high-fibre foods in your snacks, such as whole grains (e.g., whole grain bread, biscuits, wraps, and cereal), vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
Healthy Snack Ideas for Athletes
Here are some snack ideas that combine both protein and fibre, perfect for athletes:
- A small tin of tuna or salmon
- Small tin of baked beans
- A boiled egg
- Whole grain crackers (e.g., Vita Wheat 9 Grain, Ryvita Multigrain) with cheese, tuna, baked beans, or hummus
- Vegetable sticks with dip, peanut butter, or cream cheese
- A piece of fruit
- Low-sugar yogurt (e.g., Chobani, Yo-pro, Tamar Valley, Jalna)
- Mini Babybel cheese
- A small handful of nuts
Fueling Your Workout
For peak athletic performance, it’s crucial to consider nutrition before, during, and after exercise.
- Consume your last main meal 2-4 hours before your workout.
- Stay hydrated by sipping on fluids leading up to your training session.
- Opt for carbohydrate-rich snacks 1-2 hours before exercise to provide added energy. Choose foods that are low in fibre to prevent stomach discomfort.
- Consider options like a piece of fruit, toast or crumpets with banana and honey, a fruit smoothie, rice crackers, or dried fruit.
- Consider simple and easy-to-digest fuel options for sessions lasting over 90 minutes or high intensity.
- Think about lollies, orange slices, rice crackers, or sports drinks like Powerade or Gatorade.
- After your workout, aim for carbohydrate-rich foods to replenish energy levels (cereal, bread, rice, potato, pasta).
- Include a lean protein source for muscle repair (chicken, beef, fish, eggs, tofu, dairy, lentils, and legumes).
- Rehydrate by drinking fluids.
Incorporate NEAT for Weight Management
Apart from structured exercise, non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) can play a significant role in weight loss and healthy weight maintenance. NEAT includes the energy expended through daily activities that are not structured workouts.
Here are some NEAT tips to increase your energy expenditure:
- Get off public transport one stop early and complete a short walk to your destination.
- Choose the stairs over the elevator.
- Park your car further away from the entrance to sneak in extra steps.
- Take frequent breaks to stand up and move around at work.
Selecting healthy snacks rich in protein and fibre and paying attention to your pre-, during, and post-exercise nutrition can elevate your athletic performance and enhance recovery. Remember to listen to your body’s cues and adjust portion sizes based on your needs. Incorporating these strategies into your daily routine will help you achieve your overall health and fitness goals. For personalised nutrition guidance, don’t hesitate to contact our dietitians. They are here to support your nutrition needs on your athletic journey. Simply click here to make a booking.
Dietitian, Sports Dietitian & Nutritionist
(B.App.Sc. (Health Sc), B.Nutr & Diet, A.P.D.)
Levine J. A. (2002). Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best practice & research. Clinical endocrinology & metabolism, 16(4), 679–702. https://doi.org/10.1053/beem.2002.0227