Every good runner knows that if you want to run your best then you’ll need to fuel your body properly, and this doesn’t just mean breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Choosing the right snacks for before, during and after your training can make a huge difference to your performance as well as your recovery. Stick with me for the next couple of minutes and I’ll share my top five snacks for runners.
Pre – Training Snacks
I’m assuming you’ve already eaten a good sized meal about 3 hours before you want to run. These two snack suggestions are for about 30-60 minutes before you start your run. They’re both pretty light so as not to leave you feeling sluggish during your run. The idea of both snacks is to give you some quick, sugary, carbohydrate-based energy ready for your run.
1) Jam and Toast
Yep, nothing fancy here, just good old fashioned fruit jam on top of toast. You can use brown or white bread (it honestly doesn’t make much of a difference.) It’s super simple to prepare as you only need a toaster or grill, and you can have an energy filled snack ready in under 5 minutes.
You can also use honey as a substitute for jam, it’s just as delicious and will give you some quick acting sugary energy.
2) Chocolate and Cherry Granola Bar
If you’ve got a bit of spare time then why not try making this delicious, high energy pre-running recipe?
- Two cups of chocolate chips (dark chocolate is best)
- One cup of granola
- Two tablespoons of orange zest
- One tablespoon of cinnamon
- Half a cup of tart cherries (dried)
- One-quarter cup of coarse salt
To make the granola bar
- Start by melting your chocolate chips, then stir in the granola, cinnamon and orange zest. Pour into a shallow tray and then sprinkle with your cherries and salt.
- Put the whole lot in the fridge to chill until it’s firm (this usually takes about 30 to 40 minutes)
If you’ve been running for over an hour then your glycogen stores will be starting to deplete. Lower glycogen stores means lower energy, poorer performance and generally just feeling like you don’t want to go on. This is where ‘intra-workout’ nutrition comes in, which is just a fancy way of saying things you can eat during your workout. Some examples that I’ve seen in action include gummy bears, marshmallows, and other easily transportable sweets.
If you’re trying to avoid junk food then the idea of stuffing your face with gummy bears probably isn’t inspiring you right now. Instead, why not try my next suggestion?
3) Sports Gels
These sneaky little pouches are neither liquid nor solid. They’re a purpose made gel comprised of fast digesting fructose and maltodextrin. They’ll get your energy levels back up in no time, plus they come in a variety of flavors. Don’t worry, though, I know that eating a super sciency gel isn’t going to be for everyone, so let me introduce you to my personal favorite intra-workout snack…
4) Dried Fruit Mega-Mix
The obvious answer to getting some fast digesting sugars in the middle of your run is to take some fruit with you. The problem, however, is that most fresh fruit gets bashed about and ruined long before you eat it. Dried fruit, on the other hand, is really sturdy, plus it won’t spoil in the sun!
For my mega-mix, I combine dried dates, dried raisins, and dried apricots. Though you could try pretty much anything you want; mango, apple, pineapple, banana, orange, you’re only really limited by your own imagination!
Since protein helps to repair and build muscle, we want to make sure we get plenty of it after our workout is finished; this next recipe will help you do just that.
5) Fig Protein Balls
You Will Need…
- 1 and a half cups of dried figs (with their stems trimmed)
- One-third of a cup of protein powder (chocolate or orange works great!)
- One-quarter of a cup of cocoa powder
- One-quarter of a cup of any nut butter
- Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
- The zest of one orange
- The juice of half an orange
- A pinch of salt
- First, you’ll need to soften your figs by soaking them in hot water for about half an hour.
- Next, you’ll need to drain them, dry them out and put them in a food processor with the rest of your ingredients.
Roll your completed mixture into balls.
Feeling hungry yet?
There you go, five simple but effective snacks to boost your energy, improve your running performance and help you recover. Hopefully, my top five snacks have got your taste buds going. Just don’t forget that you’ve got to go out and earn those snacks! These are designed to fuel your training, so if you’re not training then you won’t be burning off all the extra energy they give you.