By Christiana Rutkowski
As an athlete, it is imperative to fuel your body correctly. Athletes have often been compared to cars. For a car to run efficiently, it needs adequate fuel. And the better the fuel, the better the car runs. The same applies to athletes, especially to runners—running requires energy, focus, and consistency. If runners are not supplying themselves with adequate energy, nutrition, and fuel, they will not be able to perform to the best of their abilities. Not getting enough calories and a lack of nutritious food can result in fatigue, inability to perform, injury, sickness, and other detrimental consequences.
As a runner myself, I know that when I have not eaten enough prior to a run, I definitely feel it. I often feel lethargic, unmotivated, very sore, or experience intense fatigue when I have not consumed enough calories. There is so much to say about nutrition for athletes and runners, but to keep it simple, I will touch on a few snacks that are great not just before a run, but after as well, and throughout the day to keep you satisfied, energized, and content.
Some snack ideas that provide nutrients, calories, and keep you satiated include:
Toast with any of the following: nut butters, avocado, fruit, jam, jelly, or hummus
Bagels with nut butters, vegan butter, or vegan cream cheese
Fruit smoothies with additional items like ground flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, dates, non-dairy yogurt, or vegan protein powder
Oatmeal with fruit (fresh or frozen), maple syrup or agave, seeds, cinnamon, and nuts
Banana with peanut butter
Whole grain cereal with almond milk (or other non-dairy milks)
Nutritional bars such as Clif bars, Lara bars, D’s Naturals No Cow bars, and other vegan options (or homemade—check out websites like Oh She Glows and No Meat Athlete for recipes)
Fruit (fresh or frozen) by itself
Vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, bell peppers, celery, grape tomatoes, and broccoli with hummus
A pita wrap with vegetables like bean sprouts, tomatoes, bell peppers, shredded carrot, broccoli slaw, spinach, mixed greens, cucumber, shredded lettuce and hummus, as well as avocado
Juice such as orange juice, apple juice, and grape juice
Non-dairy vegan yogurt with granola and fruit
Dates with peanut butter
Peanut butter and jelly/peanut butter and banana sandwich
Above are just some of many vegan snack options that can be included in an athlete’s/runner’s diet. Not only are they all incredibly tasty, but they are also very easy to pack and carry around in a bag on-the-go as well. Some snacks may require an insulated lunch bag or an ice pack to keep them cool.
Some of my personal favorite snacks to eat before running (and that make me feel best, especially if it is very early in the morning) are either ½-1 Clif bar, dates (preferably Medjool) with peanut or almond butter, fruit (usually bananas or apples), cereal with sprinkled ground flaxseed and almond milk, and/or bagels/toast with peanut butter and banana slices.
If you’re anything like me, I like to eat every 2-3 hours and I snack a lot. To make it convenient, I always bring a snack with me wherever I go. It isn’t hard to pack some trail mix, a banana, an energy bar, other fruit, dried fruit, or things like pretzels and rice cakes. Simply keep some non-perishable items in places like your backpack, your purse, your car, or anywhere else you can easily get access to some food.
The good thing about all of these snack ideas is that they take very little prep and require no fuss. They also are all, for the most part, inexpensive and very easy items to find in your grocery store. I personally am the biggest fan of Clif bars, Clif Builder bars, and D’s Naturals No Cow bars. They’re dense, tasty, and easy to take around.
Make sure to include foods in your everyday diet that provide a variety of micronutrients and macronutrients to help you feel your best and train your best.
The contents of this posting, our website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgement about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.