Smart (and Tasty!) Snacks for Distance Runners

Best snacks after a raceMost athletes know how tough it can be to find the perfect pre- or mid-run snack. Your body requires enough fuel to stay strong mile after mile, but not so much that you feel sluggish or experience stomach cramps.

In general, experts recommend choosing a pre-run snack that boosts your blood glucose levels and replenishes carbohydrate stores – the primary fuel your body needs to power through extended workouts. The amount you should eat depends on how much time you have before your run: If you have two hours, you can process 50 to 75 grams of easy-to-digest carbohydrates, but if you only have an hour to digest you should stick to 15 to 25 grams. Smart pre-run meal and snack options include:

  • ½ cup dry quinoa, cooked, and three ounces grilled chicken (total carbohydrate: 30g)
  • 6 ounces Greek yogurt and ½ cup granola (total carbohydrate: 45g)
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (total carbohydrate: 45g)

If you’re exercising for one hour or less, you don’t need a mid-run snack. But if you’re tackling a longer distance (looking at you, half- and full-marathoners!), plan to refuel 30 to 60 minutes into your run. In this instance, you should aim to consume 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour.

Here are some portable ideas for mid-run fuel:

  • One large banana (total carbohydrate: 30g)
  • 1.5 ounces raisins or other dried fruits (total carbohydrate: 34g)
  • Two sport endurance gels like the kind from Vega (total carbohydrate: 44g)

And don’t forget your post-workout snack! This is just as important for replenishing fluid, electrolytes and more. Within 15 minutes after your run, you should aim to have a mini-meal that includes both protein and carbohydrates, such as trail mix or pita bread with hummus.


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Photo credit: Jennifer Conley

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