Grab-and-Go Sport Snacks

trail mix

Giada de Laurentiis's Goji Berry Trail Mix as seen on Food Network

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Being a recreational athlete means you take your sport and training seriously, but you have other priorities as well, such as work, family, and friends. Multiple demands can create a hectic schedule, and result in imperfect fueling choices for training – from heavy, fat laden snacks to eating nothing at all. Thankfully, there are a number of easy grab-and-go food options that you can pack with you at the beginning of the day that can keep you fueled anytime your training happens.

Unless you're exercising for very long periods of time every day (think long runs or a Tough Mudder) or multiple times per day, eating immediately before or after training isn't vital. However, you should aim to eat something within a couple hours prior to, and following, training to allow you to perform, and recover adequately.

Pre-Workout

What you eat pre-workout or pre-competition should have you feeling satiated and energized, but not stuffed. Generally you’re looking for food that's a little higher in carbohydrate and protein, and lower in fat and fiber (which tend to digest more slowly). Here are a number of grab-and-go options:

• Half or whole sandwich using a can of tuna or a couple hardboiled eggs paired with bread or an English muffin. You can mash the protein with a flavorful binder like mustard or yogurt and curry powder to make a quick "egg salad" or "tuna salad" sandwich.

• Homemade protein bar, such as this Banana-Chocolate Protein Bar. Great sources of protein for home-made bars can be nut butters, milk, yogurt, eggs, or protein powders.

• Fruit-flavored Greek yogurt
• String cheese and a piece of fruit
During Workout

Unless your training sessions are more than 60 minutes, odds are you don’t need anything more than water. However, longer and higher intensity sessions may benefit from a sports drink. If you’re looking for more "natural' options, just make sure you're getting fluid, carbohydrates and electrolytes, particularly sodium. Here are a few natural grab-and-go options:

• 100 percent fruit juice-based sports drinks

• Handful of raisins with a glass of water with just a small pinch of salt for electrolytes)

• Bunch of pretzels with a tall glass of water
Post-Workout

Carbohydrates and protein again take center stage to replenish fuel stories and rebuild muscle. While eating right after training is fine, it may not be worth adding in an additional snack or meal if weight management is a concern. Just make sure you get some fuel into your system within an hour or two after training (or sooner if you find yourself starving – listen to your hunger signals). Here are some post-workout grab-and-go options:

• Low-fat chocolate milk (shelf-stable)
• Beef jerky and a piece of fruit
• Low-fat cottage cheese with pineapple, berries or jam
• And of course: the other half of the pre-workout sandwich

Also remember to have fluids before and after training to keep yourself hydrated!

Through his book and blog, Death of the Diet, Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS, empowers people to live the life they want by integrating healthy eating and physical activity habits into their daily routines. You can follow him on Twitter @JMachowskyRDFit.

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