The 5 Most Satisfying Snacks That Fuel My Workouts

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Megan Gordon)

I don’t have much of an athletic background. I made an attempt to get involved in sports when I was growing up, but it was all just downright awkward; I was so much happier reading a book or baking cookies. Fast forward to my late 20s — it was probably a surprise to everyone who knew me when I took up triathlon. Maybe a greater one yet, when I really latched onto it, and my days started to revolve around race schedules and training plans. Now it’s just a natural part of my lifestyle.

In addition to triathlon, the other hugely important part of my life is food. And over the past eight years it’s been fun to learn just how closely the two are entwined. They really go hand in hand.

Swimming, biking, and running on an almost-daily (sometimes twice-daily) basis takes a lot out of you; fueling for workouts has a big impact on performance.

By the way, the lesser-known key to a solid pre-workout snack isn’t just what you eat, but when you actually eat it. Depending on the type of workout and how hungry you are, 30 to 60 minutes beforehand is a good window for munching.

I’m certainly not a nutritionist or coach, but these are foods that work well for me and other athletes I know.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

1. Toast with nut butter

This is my go-to. The tried-and-true snack I eat before long workouts and races. I opt for whole-grain bread and almond butter, but go with your favorite. And for extra-long workouts, I top my toast with sliced banana and a drizzle of honey.

(Image credit: Megan Gordon)

2. Yogurt parfait

Sometimes a small bowl of Greek yogurt (bonus points for the extra protein) with a sprinkle of granola or whole-grain cereal and a few berries or slices of banana is the perfect boost to get you going.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

3. Energy bars

The name says it all. For a quick boost when I’m getting ready for a lunchtime or early evening workout, an energy bar or bites are really convenient. These can take a variety of forms, but typically involve dried fruit, nuts, and seeds, and sometimes oats or nut butter.

(Image credit: Emily Han)

4. Apple slices with nut butter

This is my no-muss, no-fuss, cut-to-the-chase workout snack. It’s quick and simple, yet totally satisfying and energizing. You can also make your apples more interesting by cutting them into rings to make a sandwich with the nut butter.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

5. Oatmeal

A hearty bowl of whole or steel-cut oats is comforting, and one of my favorite ways to fuel for morning workouts.

What are your favorite pre-workout snacks?