Healthy snacks for athletes

Athletes have to worry about more than just getting in enough exercise or practicing their sport. They also have to focus on what they put into their bodies. How they take care of their inside reflects how they perform on the field and when exercising. There are a variety of healthy snacks for athletes and include everything from protein bars to beef jerky. Those who are serious about improving their athletic performance will want to focus on eating more frequently throughout the day. That is where those healthy protein rich snacks come in handy.

Workout snacks

If you find yourself eating multiple times throughout the day, you will want to plan your exercise routine around your snack and meal routine. Healthy pre workout snacks are a great way to fuel your afternoon workout. Make sure this snack or mini-meal is high in protein to ensure your body has the fuel it needs to get through the workout.

According to the NCAA, having a healthy snack before and after a workout can help maximize performance in athletes. Healthy post workout snacks can help replenish the body of nutrients and fluids it used during the workout. This also helps maintain blood glucose levels that may drop after a vigorous workout.


Those who are active tend to get hungry more often throughout the day. On average, an athlete will get hungry every four hours. This is because they burn more calories and their body needs more fuel to keep up with their active lifestyle. It is best to plan you day around eating small meals multiple times in a day.

Grab and go

The University of Texas warns athletes to be aware of grab and go type snacks. Of course grab and go snacks are convenient and perfect for those who are busy. However, now all of these types of snacks are healthy. Make sure avoid anything that is high in sugar and sodium. These snacks, when enjoyed frequently, can reduce performance levels in athletes.

Are snack bars healthy?

Some athletes prefer to enjoy a nutrition bar as their snack. These are a very convenient option, especially for those who are busy. However, make sure to read the labels to ensure the bar is not filled with tons of sugar, salt and fat. Look for ones that are low-sodium, sugar-free and offer all the nutritional value you need for a healthy diet.


When looking to lose weight you will want to divide your meals up into mini meals throughout the day. This will help fuel your workouts and will help keep you feeling full throughout the day. A healthy snack for losing weight includes making small portions of fruits and vegetables. If you eat these throughout the day you will reduce the feeling of being hungry by having to wait several hours in between traditional meal times.

Some mini-meal options include unfrosted cereals eaten alone or with mixed nuts, yogurt, trail mix and raw vegetables. Other options include oatmeal and whole-grain crackers.  These are the most filling healthy snacks available.


Healthy snacks for athletes are primarily determined by the type of sport the athlete plays and the type of fuel his or her body needs. To help determine which the best healthy protein snacks are for athletes, it is important to properly define what a snack is. Then you can determine if it is a healthy one or not. Though there is no clinical definition of a snack, the NCAA states that it is commonly known as “smaller amounts of food eaten between larger meals.”

Based on that definition, a mini-meal might not be considered a snack. Especially if an athlete eats six mini-meals a day instead of the traditional three. For those that want to keep their routine of three main meals a day, snacks would be anything they eat in between those meals. For most athletes it is best to choose healthy snacks that are high in protein. These are perfect in between meal options.

Snacking errors

According to the NCAA, some athletes can mess up their entire routine by making small mistakes when it comes to their snacking schedule. Here are some of the snacking errors listed by the NCAA:

  • Skipping snacks (before and after workouts, as well as throughout the day)
  • Eating too large of a snack (especially before exercising)
  • Not preplanning snacks (planning can reduce impulse eating)
  • Eating only processed sport foods (there are many other healthy options available for snacking)

Snacks to avoid

Though they may be tasty, there is a list of snacks that all athletes needs to try and avoid. According to some of these must-avoid snacks include chips, snack cakes, cookies, candy and soft drinks. Instead, try replacing these items with fig newtons, gingersnaps or graham crackers. Another great snack for athletes, especially those in bodybuilding is beef jerky.

Healthy eating goals

All athletes should make a list of goals that will put them on the right path to eating healthy. There are many different healthy snacks for runners, weightlifters and other athletes available that can be included in their daily nutrition routine. According to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, here are some the eight healthy eating goals everyone should try to strive for:

  • Fill your plate up with at least half fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains should comprise at least half of the grains you eat
  • Drink fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Eat a variety of different lean protein foods
  • Compare sodium levels in all foods and opt for low-sodium options
  • Drink water instead of drinks made with sugar
  • Enjoy some seafood now and then
  • Cut back on solid fats, such as cakes, cookies and desserts

There are many healthy snacks for athletes available. In fact, many athletes choose to have mini-meals instead of snacks throughout the day. Regardless of if you plan mini-meals or just rely on snacks to get you through the day, it is important to focus on making these healthy. The healthier the options you choose, the better your performance will be during your workout.