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Eating for Workouts: Snacks to Fuel You


Berries are one of the best workout snacks out there! Credit: *clairity*

Today’s post about eating for workouts is part of FBG’s Back to Basics Week that features the best beginner fitness and beginner nutrition posts that help you to be a little healthier and—in theme with the week—a little smarter. It’s written by Alicia Gilmore, MS, RD, CSO, LD, who has been a registered dietitian for 11 years in Dallas, helping more than 100 patients each month find healing through nutrition.

Paul McCartney once said, “In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” This also rings true for fueling your body for exercise—to have a quality workout, you have to start with quality fuel. The right balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat can make the difference between struggling through a workout and acing it. Read on for the latest tips on eating for workouts and examples of yummy workout snacks to fuel you!

Carbs are Key When Eating for Workouts

For those eating for workouts of more than an hour and/or focusing on endurance activities, such as cycling or long-distance running, carbohydrates are key. After several hours of activity, glycogen stores (our quick energy) will be depleted, so it is recommended to consume 5 to 10 grams of carbohydrates a day for every kilogram of your body weight (your weight in pounds divided by 2.2). Good workout-snack options include:

  • A small bowl of pasta salad (choose light-mayonnaise options)
  • A half of a baked potato (add a little grated cheese for flavor, but avoid the butter)
  • A piece of fresh seasonal fruit or one cup of ripe berries

Protein to Power Through

For someone working out moderately on a regular basis, protein is a great source of energy—but be careful because excess protein is stored as fat rather than burned for fuel, meaning we should try to eat just the amount we need. Six to seven ounces of lean protein is enough to supply us with plenty of fuel for exercise. Ideal workout-snack options include:

  • Lean sources of meat, like skinless chicken breast, lightly sautéed fish or a small sirloin
  • KIND Nut Delight—made of ingredients you can actually recognize like whole nuts and flax seeds, this bar doubles as both a good source of protein and heart-healthy fat
  • Vegetarian options include beans added to a healthy salad, two hard-boiled eggs or a small Greek yogurt

Fats in Moderation for Your Workout Snacks

Fats will help you power through the duration of any level of activity, but be sure to keep your intake in accordance with the American Heart Associations’ guidelines of maintaining a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat and total fat (downward dog will not be fun post-cupcake!). Easy ways to integrate those healthy good fats into your workout snacks include:

  • Snacking on a small handful of whole, unsalted nuts, like almonds or walnuts
  • Spicing up your sandwich with a sliced ripe avocado
  • Sprinkling a handful of olives on your typical salad

In sum, when you are eating for workouts with healthy foods and snacks, you can get a quality workout. So make the right choices, and you’ll be well on your way to powering through your next exercise session! —Alicia Gilmore

Thanks for the tips, Alicia! What’s a few of your favorite workout snacks? —Jenn

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