Do you need a midnight, mid-afternoon, or mid-run snack to get through the day?
We know we do. Let’s face it: three square meals are no match for a runner’s appetite. The good news is that eating small meals throughout the day not only silences your grumbling stomach, but can also aid in weight loss. From soybeans to gummy bears, we’ve got 25 runner-friendly foods that can be eaten (in snack size) whenever hunger comes knocking.
From Eat Like a Genius: Nutrition for Runners, one of more than a dozen free training guides available from Runner’s World.
Why they’re good: Bananas are chock full of good carbohydrates. They are a good source of vitamin B6 and are vital for managing protein metabolism. (Runners need more protein during and after workouts.)
When they’re good: Before, during, or after exercise. They’re great blended into a fruit smoothie. Or simply whip frozen banana chunks with milk in a blender for an awesome recovery shake.
Calories: 105 per medium-sized banana.
Why they’re good: Carrots are low-calorie but filling, so they’re excellent if you’re watching your weight. They contain carotene and vitamin A, which promote eye health and strong immune function.
When they’re good: Eat them at night when you want something to munch but don’t want extra calories. Or eat them before dinner if you’re famished. This way, you won’t overindulge once you sit down for your meal.
Calories: 30 to 40 per medium-sized carrot.
3. Cereal with Skim Milk
Why it’s good: Most cereals are vitamin- and mineral-fortified, and they’re great with fresh fruit sliced on top. Cereal is a quick-to-prepare, easily digestible, and healthful way to satisfy your sweet tooth. (Even some sweetened cereals are a good low-fat alternative to cookies). Choose cereals that have 5 grams of fiber or more per serving.
When it’s good: Fine as a pre-run snack, a post-run pick-me-up, or even as a trail mix during a long, easy run.
Calories: Between 200 and 500 (per 11⁄2 ounces of cereal plus 8 ounces of skim milk).
Nutrition Tip: A good goal is to eat six meals spread over 16 waking hours—about one every 3 hours.
4. Chocolate Milk
Why it’s good: Chocolate milk is cold and helps keep you hydrated. It also provides plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and B vitamins. The calcium in milk will help keep your bones strong.
When it’s good: An ice-cold shot of chocolate milk is the perfect reward after a hot summer run.
Calories: 160 calories per 8 ounces of 1 percent milk.
5. Cottage Cheese
Why it’s good: It’s packed with protein, which runners need more of than sedentary people for muscle rebuilding and repair. It serves as a good calcium source as well.
When it’s good: Any time except just before running. Great with fruit after an intense workout or race.
Calories: 165 per 1 cup of 1 percent cottage cheese.
Why they’re good: These little morsels are low-fat and high-carbohydrate, and provide a good amount of vitamin A, fiber, and potassium.
When they’re good: Any time. Toss chopped apricots over your granola at breakfast, or eat whole ones plain before your afternoon workout or as a sweet treat after dinner.
Calories: 80 per 10 apricot halves.