Home » Blog » 40 Best Healthy Snacks For Athletes On-The-Go

40 Best Healthy Snacks For Athletes On-The-Go

Are you in search of new healthy snacks for athletes? Then welcome! We are sharing a Registered Dietitian’s top 40 grab-and-go snacks for athletes, including snacks to eat before, during, and after a workout. 

The key to improving performance is eating enough throughout the day; snacks can help. Often, working athletes and families chauffeuring young athletes from practice to practice tend to be very busy! 

Snacking is an important part of an athlete’s diet so having easy snacks on hand is critical. Read on for healthy snack ideas for all types of athletes including those who are gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan! 

Grab the Printable Snack Guide here for more tips and tricks to elevate your healthy snacking!

*Note, this section includes affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Why Do Athletes Need Snacks? 

Athletes should aim to refuel every 2-3 hours. This frequent eating pattern serves several critical purposes:

  1. Meeting High Energy Needs And Preventing Deficiencies: Athletes have higher daily energy requirements. Snacking helps athletes maintain. necessary energy levels and provides more vitamins and minerals throughout the day.
  2. Replenishing Muscle Glycogen: Carbohydrate-rich snacks replenish muscle glycogen, essential for sustaining energy levels during exercise.
  3. Facilitating Muscle Repair: Protein-packed snacks aid in muscle repair and recovery, ensuring optimal performance during training and competitions.
  4. Prevent Fatigue: Snacks help athletes maintain peak energy and performance levels by preventing low blood sugar levels. 

Integrating snacks into an athlete’s dietary regimen at regular intervals is vital for meeting their energy needs and supporting muscle function, recovery, and overall well-being.

Healthy Athlete Snack Guidelines 

Athletes should aim to eat a snack every 2-3 hours. However, the closer the snack is consumed before a workout the more carbohydrate-rich it should be! Snack timing matters, check out the tips below to avoid GI upset during your workouts.

As a general guideline, we recommend (1): 

  • Healthy snacks before a workout: 30-60 g of easy-to-digest carbs 30-60 minutes before a workout 
  • Snacks to eat during a workout: simple, easy-to-digest carbohydrate foods ( )
  • Recovery snacks to eat after a workout: aim for a 3:1 carb-to-protein ratio- more carbs! 
  • Snacks 2-4 hours before a workout: incorporate more fiber and healthy fats!

Healthy Snacks To Eat Before A Workout

Before a workout aim for 30-60 grams of easy-to-digest carbohydrates or use our pre-workout carb calculator for a more personalized estimate of how many carbs to eat before a workout. 

  1. Fruit leather bar: These are great for your gym bag, car, or purse!
  2. Instant oatmeal packet or cup: just add hot water! These sweetened Quaker oat packets are packed with a mix of simple and complex carbs to fuel your workout.
  3. Fig Bar: We love Nature’s Barkey Fig Bars because they provide whole grains and make glutenfree fig bars!
  4. Apple sauce pouch: GoGo Squeeze is easy to digest and consume on the go.
  5. Naked juice: These tasty juices provide quick energy, vitamins, and minerals to support a healthy immune system. 
  6. Bobo’s Bar: These are great allergy-friendly and healthy nutrient-dense energy bars. Bobo’s bars are gluten-free and dairy-free!
  7. Clif Kid Zbar or Clif bar: Both granola bars are packed with carbs and come in many flavors. These tend to be many of our athletes’ favorite quick snacks. 
  8. Banana: This is a perfect snack right before a workout that involves no preparation and is packed with potassium. Don’t like a bruised banana? Us either! Try a banana keeper to keep your fruit fresh. 
  9. Pretzels: A great go-to savory snack to give you an electrolyte boost with sodium before your next workout. 
  10. Larabar: These bars have less than 6 ingredients and taste like candy bars. We enjoy them warmed in the microwave for a mid-day sweet treat. 
Healthy snacks for athletes to eat before a workout including a fruit leather, pretzels, fig bar, banana, apple sauce, bobos bar, juice, granola bars, and oatmeal.

For more snack ideas check out these 20 snacks to eat before practice! Try to avoid snacks that are high in fats, spicy, and fiber to avoid stomach upset. 

Grab-and-Go Healthy Snacks To Eat During A Workout

During workouts >1 hour we recommend fueling 30-60 g of carbs per hour. If you are participating in a longer endurance activity such as swimming, running, or biking for over 2.5 hours aim to fuel 60-90 grams of carbs per hour. 

  1. Raisins: Try one small box (1.5 oz) for a quick and easy-to-consume 34 grams of carbohydrates during your workout. 
  2. Fruit Snacks: Any brand will provide a quick carbohydrate boost during your workout. Our personal favorites are Welch’s, Mott’s, and Annie’s fruit snacks!
  3. Sports drinks: Aim to consume sports drinks and electrolytes with carbohydrates such as Skratch, Drip-Drop, and Gatorade. Learn more about electrolytes by reading our ultimate hydration guide.
  4. Fruit Cup: All low-fiber fresh fruits and fruit cups make for healthy snacks for athletes.
  5. Honey Stinger Waffle: We love these mini honey-sweetened waffles as mid-workout snacks. They come in many flavors and have gluten-free options.
  6. Frozen grapes: Try these for a refreshing summer snack! Grapes are low in fiber, and hydration, and help to replenish glycogen stores mid-workout. 
Healthy snacks for athletes to eat during a workout including grapes, fruit cups, raisins, honey stinger waffles, and fruit snacks.

Recovery Snacks To Eat After A Workout 

After a workout aim to consume snacks with protein and carbs plus fluids to repair muscle, restore muscle glycogen, and rehydrate. Check out the blog for more recovery nutrition tips.  

Perishable Post-Workout Snacks

We recommend storing these snacks in a cooler bag with an ice pack. For smoothies, protein shakes, and milk use insulated bottles. Yeti and Hydro Flask bottles can keep drinks cold for 12+ hours. 

  1. Protein smoothie: Check out the best protein powders for athletes on the blog. 
  2. Greek yogurt and dried cereal or granola: Greek yogurt is higher in protein so makes for a great snack after a workout. Yogurt is also rich in leucine, an amino acid that builds muscle and accelerates recovery.
  3. Chobani drinkable yogurt and a KIND bar: These drinkable yogurts provide 20 grams of protein 
  4. Hard-boiled eggs and orange juice: This is a great way to fuel up after an early morning workout. Eggs are a protein-packed snack that provides all 9 essential amino acids to build and restore muscle. 
  5. Chocolate milk and apple slices: Chocolate milk is an excellent recovery beverage. Dairy products are a great source of protein, carbs, and calcium.
  6. Overnight protein oats: check out these tips for making the best protein overnight oats or try this delicious vegan overnight protein oat recipe
Healthy snacks for athletes to eat after a workout to keep in a cooler including chocolate milk, yogurt, overnight protein oats, hard boiled eggs, orange juice, granola, and a protein shake.

Non-Perishable Healthy Post-Workout Snacks for Athletes 

  1. Core Power protein shake and dried mango: Fresh fruit and dried fruit are a great way to boost carbs post-workout. Pair with any protein shake to optimize recovery and athletic performance. 
  2. A bottle of coconut water and a rise protein bar: We love this 3 ingredient protein bar! The coconut water adds hydration and potassium to get you ready for your next workout. 
  3. Pro-bar and turkey jerky: Many of the collegiate athletes we work with love Pro-Bars because they are small but nutrient-dense. Adding turkey jerky to any snack adds 8-12 grams of protein!
  4. Graham crackers and sunflower seed butter: Sunbutter and sunflower seeds are a great alternative for athletes with nut allergies! 88 Acres also makes delicious pumpkin seed butter.
  5. Tart Cherry juice and a Clif Builder bar: Tart Cherry juice is great for post-workout recovery because it can help minimize muscle soreness and speed up recovery time (2). 
  6. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole grain bread or opt for an uncrustable: For those looking to save money and prep in advance try this crust cutter to make you feel like you’re eating an uncrustable. 😉 
healthy snacks for athletes to eat after a workout pictured are protein shakes, protien bars, dried fruit, peanut butter and jelly, sunflower seed butter, graham crackers, granola bar, and jerky

Healthy Snacks For Athletes During the Day

Eating throughout the day increases an athlete’s opportunity to meet daily nutrient needs! Avoid the need to rely on fast food and concession stands by leaving home with well-planned snacks. Healthy options can be easy. 

Eating snacks on the practice day is the best time to practice what will work on race day or game day. Avoid snacking on new foods you haven’t tried before on competition days.

Check out more healthy snack options for athletes, including snacks for vegan and gluten-free athletes below!

Grab-and-Go Snacks for Vegan Athletes

  1. Celery sticks and black bean dip: This small snack is packed with fiber and protein. While celery is often referred to as “empty calories” it can be boosted with dips and nut butters.
  2. Dried chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, and dried fruit: Adding dried chickpeas to your homemade trail mix boosts fiber, protein, and crunch! The sprinkle of pumpkin seeds adds magnesium to prevent muscle cramps.
  3. Aloha protein bar and Soymilk: These vegan protein bars are great for athletes with lactose intolerance and remain a favorite among plant-based athletes. Soy milk is the best cow’s milk alternative because it is the highest in protein.
  4. Dates and almond butter: Dates are delicious sweet treats loaded with easy-to-digest carbohydrates. We recommend stopping them with almond butter for muscle growth and recovery.
  5. Mama chia pouch and trail mix: Chia seeds are packed with fiber and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Combine this with an energizing trail mix for a quick grab-and-go nutrient-dense snack.
  6. Hummus and Veggie Pita Sandwich: Grab our recipe here. Plus more pita bread recipes including a dessert pita pizza topped with banana slices.
Healthy snacks for vegan athletes including soy milk, vegan protein bars, pita, hummus, dates, almond butter, chia seed pack, trail mix and dried chickpeas.

Tasty Gluten-Free Snacks for Athletes 

  1. Gluten-free whole-grain crackers and a tuna packet: Tuna is a good source of protein, pair it with crackers or whole-grain bread (gluten-free if needed) for a healthy snack after a workout.
  2. Chomps beef jerky stick, string cheese, and rice crackers: This is one of the best savory snacks. Cheese sticks are a great way to add protein and calcium. Pair them with jerky for even more protein!
  3. Yogurt pouch and a GoMacro bar: The peanut butter chocolate chip is our favorite GoMacro bar flavor.
  4. Gluten-free bagel, cream cheese, and jelly: This is a heavier snack packed with carbs and calcium- sure to satisfy evening or mid-day hunger pangs. Plus a bagel is easy to pack or eat on the go.
  5. Cottage cheese and fruit: Cottage cheese is loaded with protein and calcium to promote strong bone health. Grab our high-protein cottage cheese recipes including cottage cheese pancakes, smoothies, and egg bite recipes.
  6. Guacamole, carrot sticks, and corn chips: If you’re in a hurry try these easy-to-go guacamole cups. Guac is packed with nutritional value.
Snacks for gluten-free athletes including a gluten-free bagel with cream cheese, rcie crackers and tuna, jerky sticks, yogurt packs, gomacro bar, cottage cheese, guacamole and cheese sticks.

The Bottom Line: Eat More Snacks!

Athletes and active people should aim to eat 2-4 snacks per day.

Healthy snacking is a pillar in an athlete’s diet. Snacking ensures athletes have the necessary energy for their sport. Eating more frequently promotes muscle recovery, supports weight management, and enhances cognitive function.

You don’t need protein powder or protein bars to nail your nutrition. However, those supplements along with these grab-and-go snack options can help busy athletes meet their nutrition needs in less time. 

We hope these 40 healthy snacks for athletes help you crush your sports nutrition goals.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top