Endurance athletes: do you know which snacks will best fuel training, boost recovery and improve health? Beware those which hinder performance and enjoy these ten best snacks for endurance (plus four to avoid at all costs)
Snacks for endurance athletes: Timing
Your snack choices should reflect your training demands. A mid-afternoon snack before a high intensity evening session should include quality carbohydrates whereas a mid-morning snack on a recovery day would focus more on quality protein and fat.
While keeping nutrient density front and centre during snack selection, here are nine snacks for endurance athletes.
A delicious combination of crushed nuts, fruit and warming spices make our Amore energy bar a brilliant mid-afternoon snack
Snacks for endurance athletes – four to avoid
Before we dive into what you should snack on, here’s what to avoid:
- High sugar foods. Not only will a crash follow a short-lived energy spike, but unless you immediately burn the sugar, it’ll turn to fat. If maltodextrin, acesulfame K and sucralose appear on the label, steer clear
- Processed foods. Processed food increases inflammation, which is at the heart of all chronic diseases and a dead-cert to hinder endurance
- Baked goods. High in trans-fats, items like donuts and pastries wreak havoc on key health markers and provide no nutritional value
- Soft drinks. They’re high in sugar, sweeteners and chemicals no-one would recognise as real food. Avoid them, including ‘diet’ and ‘low calorie’ varieties
Snacks for endurance athletes #1: Rice cakes
Rice cakes are a classic for endurance athletes from Chris Froome to Jan Frodeno for good reason.
Rice cakes are a staple snacks for pro endurance athletes
They’re nutrient-rich and provide the perfect base on which to adorn your favourite topping:
- Peanut butter. High in healthy polyunsaturated fats and Vitamin E, peanut butter makes a great topping. Ensure your PB is 100% peanuts with no additives like sugar, oil or salt. Upgrade by adding a sliced banana for a real winner
- Hummus. Super-nutritious hummus is high in fibre, protein and anti-inflammatory nutrients plus it’s low GI to stabilise energy levels. Don’t go for reduced fat varieties which are often higher in sugar
- Avocado. A nutrient powerhouse, avocados are high in monounsaturated fatty acids crucial for heart health. They’re also loaded with potassium, fibre and a range of vitamins and minerals. Slice it, smash it or lump it on whole
- Cottage cheese. Smooth texture and subtle taste, cottage cheese is high in protein and calcium – ideal for post-session recovery
Snacks for endurance athletes #2: Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are high in mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids promoting heart health and a fortified immune system. They're also high in protein for recovery.
Avoid salted or drizzled-in-honey varieties and keep it real! Good options include
- Almonds - found in our Elite Pre and Post Workout Shakes
- Flaxseed - high in Omega-3, they're great for your heart
- Pumpkin seed - a core ingredient of our Premium Protein
- Walnuts - for protection against free radicals
- Chia seeds - the foundation of our chia energy gel
- Others - macadamias, pistachios and cashews
Discover the 7 best nuts for endurance
Note that nuts and seeds are high in calories so keep portions small if you're trying to shed weight.
Snacks for endurance athletes #3: Ross's smokey paprika roasted chickpeas
This recipe courtesy of 33Fuel Relationship Manager is easy to prep and quick to make. The end product is a tasty, moreish and healthy snack packed with goodness. Give the recipe a go.
Snacks for endurance athletes #4: Greek yoghurt
Lower in sugar than regular yoghurt, the Greek version is packed with protein, probiotics and vitamin B12, making it an ideal recovery snack. It’s versatile too: add your favourite nuts, seeds or fruit to keep it interesting.
Snacks for endurance athletes #5: Hummus
Dip raw veggies like peppers, carrots or celery into hummus for a low-calorie, nutrient dense. Bump up your carbs by spreading hummus on whole-grain crackers or pita bread.
Snacks for endurance athletes #6: Healthy sports nutrition
“Sports nutrition? You mean gels and protein bars”? I hear you question. You’re right to ponder this one given how much cr@p goes into most sports nutrition these days.
Don’t even get us started!
How good would it be to have a sports nutrition gel that’s not only good for performance and health but tasty too? Well, our chia energy gel is just that. High in good fats, fibre and packing protein, our chia energy gel won’t just boost race day performance - enjoy the slow-release energy as a mid-afternoon snack to get you through the final few hours in the office.
Snacks for endurance athletes #7: Oats
Oats are a nutrient powerhouse high in slow-release carbs and fibre and, unknown to most, also a good source of protein. Oats sit low on the glycaemic index meaning you’ll enjoy stable, sustained energy levels.
Oats make for a nutritious, versatile snack for endurance athletes
Soak oats in your favourite milk, add half a banana and a sprinkling of cinnamon for a tasty, nutritious pre or post workout snack.
Snacks for endurance athletes #8: Fruit
All fruit is good, but endurance athletes should focus on those that moderate blood sugar levels such as:
Snacks for endurance athletes #9: Dark chocolate
When you need a chocolate fix, go dark - aim for 70% and above. Dark chocolate lowers cholesterol and blood pressure and it’s flavanols have been shown to reduce inflammation. But like nuts, keep the portion size under control!
Snacks for endurance athletes #10: Protein shake
Our ‘to be avoided’ list included high sugar items. Well, that rules out 99% of protein shakes, but there is one you might not have tried yet: the 33Fuel Premium Protein packs 20g protein per serving and contains just six ingredients:
- Pea protein
- Coconut sugar
- Organic raw cacao
- Organic banana
- Organic rice protein
- Organic sunflower protein
20g plant-based protein plus organic cacao and organic banana to flavour is all you need for a silky smooth, tasty and performance enhancing protein shake
Snacks for endurance athletes - conclusion
Be mindful when selecting snacks and ensure your they are:
- Nutrient dense
- Geared towards supporting your training demands
- Are good for your overall health
- Varied enough to keep you satisfied