Whether you’re a recreational runner or regular marathoner, you likely take a lot of care in the way that you treat your body. Athletes, more than most other people, really understand how important it is to treat their body as a temple.
When you’re looking for healthy snacks that fuel your body without a sugar crash or unnecessary calories while still tasting freaking awesome, look no further. Here at Over Easy, we know the struggle, so we created a list to make it easy to find a snack the next time you’re hungry. Choose anything off this list, without guilt, and power your body the right way.
Nothing, and we repeat, nothing, is more important to an athlete than proper water consumption. If you’re not drinking enough water, it doesn’t matter what you choose to eat—your ability to perform is directly related to proper hydration. In fact, if you lose just 2% of your body weight through fluid loss, your athletic performance can drop as much as 25%! No, thanks.
Dehydration is not just something that athletes deal with. Most of us tend not to skip out on the amount of water we should be drinking each day. Because water is so important to the normal functioning of the body, not having enough can cause the tissues to dry out, your organs to function more slowly, and even cause you to lose focus. Next time you’re feeling a bit out of, consider how long it’s been since you last had something to drink.
So how much water do you need, exactly?
Work on your hydration before a workout, days ahead if possible. Then, about an hour or two before you’re ready to exercise, drink another 15 to 20 ounces. You don’t have to chug it, as long as you drink the entire amount. After that, about 15 minutes before you work out, treat yourself to another 8 to 10 ounces. Hey, water is the fuel of life, after all.
But the water shouldn’t just stop there! During a workout, especially one in which you’ll be sweating heavily, make sure that you drink 8 ounces every 15 minutes or so. However, there is such a thing as drinking too much water, although most of us won’t ever get to that point. Never chug gallons of water at a time, and only replace the fluids that you’ve lost.
When you’re a busy athlete on the go, you want a snack that you don’t have to put too much work or thought into. That’s why protein bars are the best option for fueling your body with the right stuff without worrying about how you’ll feel after you eat it. And no, we’re not biased.
We created our breakfast bars with this in mind. Each of our bars has 9 to 10 grams of protein to give your body the energy it needs for any workout you’ve got planned. Protein is fuel as well as the essential component required to build and repair muscle after the workout is over, so, yes, there’s a reason that all the gym bros talk about it constantly.
When you look for a healthy protein bar, look for a few key things. First of all, even if you don’t have celiac disease, gluten-free protein bars tend to be a less heavy, easier-to-process way to go.
Even more important than that, though, is a protein bar without extra refined sugar. Many people tend to think of sugar as a way to make something taste good because we’ve been trained to think of sweet things as the most delicious. But refined sugar really is the devil in disguise and can lead to major complications later on in life like diabetes, obesity, and other health problems.
A good protein bar is made of only a few, easy to pronounce, whole ingredients. Organic ingredients are also a win. Think about each part of the whole before you put it in your mouth. And if you had to take a wild guess as to which breakfast bar hits all these categories, who do you think it would be? That’s right. Us.
When it comes to healthy snacks that power the body, nuts stand out from the crowd. These tiny powerhouses pack a punch of healthy fat, vitamins, minerals, and protein. They’re easy to eat on the go and are tasty all on their own without resorting to extras like sugar and dressing.
Not all nuts are created equal, though. Walnuts are a particular win because they contain a component known as alpha-linolenic acid (or ALA), that actually helps break down other foods and turn them into energy, and almonds and peanuts are a major winner as well. .
As great as nuts are, there is definitely such a thing as eating too many of them. They tend to be pretty high in calories and, with their small size, it‘s easy to go overboard. Make sure that you eat nuts in moderation, or include them in your protein bar or homemade energy snacks for built-in portion control.
Fresh Fruits And Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables are always a great choice, both for athletes and for anyone looking to make healthier choices. Not only do they require zero work other than cutting them ahead of time (if you want), they are also easy for your body to break down and turn into energy.
While basically all fruits and vegetables are good for you, there are some that make naturally better options for the busy athlete on the go. Try things like baby carrots, apple slices, and cherries. They can all be thrown into a bag for an easy snack after a hard workout, and they don’t require refrigeration while you’re getting your sweat on.
Bananas are a particularly great option for athletes. Not only are they full of vitamins and minerals that help give you that boost of energy you may need to push through a difficult workout, but they are also full of potassium to help prevent muscle cramping and pain after you’re through with exercising. Also, they come in their own packaging—less mess, less work, more snack.
If fruits and vegetables are great, and nuts are a must-eat for any athlete, the two of them together must make for an absolute champion of a snack?
One of the best parts about trail mix is that there’s a nearly endless amount of ways to put it together. If you’re more into dried fruits, you can add more to the mix. If you like nuts more, you can go that way. Throw in some dark chocolate for a fun, sweet twist. Whatever your mixture of choice, you can easily pack trail mix into any gym bag or jacket pocket and use it to fuel any athletic adventure you have planned.
The best part is, every component of trail mix is healthy on its own and won’t leave you feeling overly full or sluggish after you eat it. That means you can enjoy it as much as you want without worrying that it will affect your athletic performance–it’s the good stuff.
While peanut butter may not seem like a snack all on its own, think outside of the jar!
Peanut butter makes for an incredibly powerful, energy-boosting, protein-packed snack. Some athletes may choose to eat it by the spoonful when they need a quick jumpstart or include it in a smoothie or with some fresh apple slices.
No matter how you choose to eat it, you’ll be able to fend off hunger pains and give your muscles the protein they need to repair themselves. It’s a well rounded, healthy way to power any workout, from a quick swim to a full marathon. Just make sure you don’t go crazy, as peanut butter is also fairly calorie-dense, and it’s easy to throw back a couple of servings without even meaning to.
If you’re looking to enjoy the benefits of peanut butter without worrying about eating the entire jar, try one of our peanut butter breakfast bars. It’s got 11 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber in every single bar, plus you can be assured that you’re eating it in moderation.
What Should Athletes Stay Away From?
Although every athlete is different, there are a few things that most every athlete should make sure to stay away from.
Sugar is on the top of the list. While many people cheat and temporarily boost their energy with sugar, the resulting sugar crash an hour or two later isn’t worth it. Sugar can also be physically addictive, so it’s best to just avoid turning into a sugar monster by cutting out as much as you can.
Processed foods are in the same boat. It’s tempting to grab the quick, easy option instead of looking for a healthy snack, but processed foods take a toll on all of us eventually. They can lead to weight gain, are difficult for the body to break down into energy, and really don’t have any redeeming nutritious qualities whatsoever.
What you put into your body directly affects your ability to perform athletically. If you choose to fuel your body with sugar and short-acting forms of energy, you may not get the workout experience (or results) that you’re looking for. When you treat your body like the temple it is and give it healthy things like protein bars, fresh fruits and vegetables, and the water it needs to function properly, you’ll likely be amazed at the results.