Snacks: Important Fuel for Runners
By Patricia Chuey, Senior Nutrition Consultant, SportMedBC
Boxer Rocky Balboa snacked on a smoothie of raw eggs. As we reach step 8 on our climb to Sun Run victory, it’s time to look at the quality of the snacks fueling the journey – but I’ll take a pass on the raw eggs!
For optimal energy stores throughout the duration of your training program, eating every three to four hours throughout the day is advised. Being consistent with snacking during the day when you’re most active also helps prevent over-snacking in the evening when less active. The best snacks are a well-balanced combo of carbohydrate and protein foods. Great examples include:
· A banana, pear, grapes, apple or orange with a handful of toasted almonds, pecans or walnuts. (Cut the apple or orange into segments before packing with you to prevent it travelling back home)
· A plate of three or four different veggies with hummus or tzatziki for dip
· Yogurt and fresh fruit or both combined into a smoothie. Try peach yogurt blended with frozen peaches; banana, milk and peanut butter; or a classic smoothie of strawberries, yogurt and orange juice
· A slice of whole grain bread with nut butter or cheese
· Trail mix of dried fruit and nuts
· A small bowl of healthy cereal with milk
· A homemade oatmeal berry muffin with a slice of cheese
High carb, yet low quality snacks like low-fibre muffins, cookies or chips are available everywhere. Because good quality, well-balanced snacks can be much tougher to find when on the go, pack at least one or two healthy snack choices for the day before heading out. If you end up at the grocery store looking for a healthy snack, read labels and keep these criteria for healthy choices in mind:
· Granola or Energy Bars: less than 3 grams of fat, more than 4 grams of protein, less than 10 grams of sugar and a whole grain as a first ingredient.
· Cereal: 2-8-4 Rule, less than 2 grams of fat, less than 8 grams of sugar and at least 4 grams of fibre per serving.
· Crackers: no greasy residue or trans fat. More than 2 grams of fibre per serving.
· Yogurt: No added sugar, minimal or zero fillers like corn syrup. Look for 1-2% milk fat.
You can’t go wrong with fruit or vegetables (which are carbohydrates) as the base of most snacks. Aim for at least one such snack daily. Make snacking on vegetables more interesting. Buy an appetizing salad dressing to use as dip. Cut and serve vegetables in new ways: a large carrot cut diagonally or with a crinkle cutter, yams baked into fries, celery with cheese or a veggie you haven’t had for a while like cherry tomatoes or yellow pepper strips.