Staying fueled is important for runners. A key nutrition strategy is to maintain energy levels, consume a variety of nutrients, and keep one’s metabolism at peak condition to optimize running performance. Snacking is a vital part of this nutrition strategy. Proper snacking can also help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent weight gain. Here are some tips and some healthy snacks for runners that can help keep energy levels optimal!
Eat every three to four hours
Eating every few hours will control the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Ghrelin is produced in the stomach thirty minutes after finishing a meal. After about three hours, ghrelin production increases and can offset blood sugar levels and cause people to get irritable, hungry, or lightheaded. By eating every three to four hours, one can control ghrelin and stay energized. In addition, having a snack can reduce portion sizes and encourage healthier food choices at the main meals.
Morning and/or afternoon snack
Depending on the person, you may or may not need a morning snack. However, most people need an afternoon snack between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm. Ever notice the need for that afternoon pick-me-up? Craving coffee or a sweet afternoon treat? Instead, choose a healthy snack that will provide you with energy and also fuel an evening run after work.
When eating a snack, combine food groups to increase metabolism and better control hunger levels. Consuming both carbohydrates and protein together will also help increase metabolism because protein helps with the uptake of carbohydrates. For example, eat an apple with nut butter (fruit/carbohydrate group and heart-healthy fat/protein group) or hummus with carrots (protein/heart-healthy fat group with vegetable/carbohydrate group).
Here are a few other healthy snacks for runners:
- Corn tortilla with a slice of cheese
- Banana with nut butter
- Hard-boiled egg with toast
- Raisins with pistachios
- Yogurt with fruit and granola
Remember to eat within 15 to 30 minutes of the end of a run, whether it be a snack or a meal. Stay energized and fueled. Cheers to healthy snacking!