If you’ve ever worked out after eating rich, fatty, or otherwise unhealthy foods, you probably know it negatively affects your performance. Similarly, eating highly processed or unhealthy foods after a workout can make you sluggish, hinder your recovery, and limit weight loss results. If you’re searching for the perfect, healthy snacks to fuel your body for exercise, you’ve come to the right place. Try these ten excellent recipes today!
What is the importance of proper nutrition for exercise?
Whether running, cycling, lifting weights, or doing yoga, proper nutrition is a critical component of athletic performance. If you eat junk, you probably won’t feel great, and you’ll have a more challenging time getting through your workouts and getting the results you want. On the other hand, if you fuel your body with various nutritious foods, you’ll feel better and stronger, and your athletic performance will improve.
Even when it feels like you’re too busy to throw together a healthy snack before or after a workout, it’s always worth the effort. And getting the proper nutrition might be easier than you think. (See some of our favorite easy and healthy snack recipes below!)
What qualities should a pre and post-workout snack have?
Whole foods that are packed with protein and carbs are great pre-workout snacks. Here’s why:
- Your body digests healthy carbs quickly to give your body the energy it needs to power through your workout.
- Protein helps your body repair the tiny muscle tears that occur when you workout, allowing you to build more muscle, recover faster, and increase your metabolism.
When it comes to healthy snacks, pairing protein with carbohydrates helps provide long-lasting energy, so you don’t crash mid-workout and struggle to get through it.
10 healthy snacks to enjoy before or after your workout
1. Quinoa Peanut Butter Snack Balls
From Happy Healthy Mama
This yummy snack is gluten-free and vegan; you can even make it nut-free by subbing sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter. Each snack ball is 36 calories with less than 1 gram of sugar and 1.5 grams of protein.
- 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
- pinch of sea salt
- Combine the quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Stir it once and reduce the temperature so it can simmer for about 10-15 minutes (or until the water is completely absorbed).
- Let the quinoa cool completely before adding the peanut butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, molasses, and sea salt.
- Stir well and roll into 1-inch balls.
- Cool on a tray in the refrigerator.
2. High Protein Chocolate Overnight Oats
From Diabetes Strong
This is the perfect high-protein snack or breakfast, with a whopping 20 grams of protein. It’s made with almond milk and tastes like chocolate pudding without all the unnecessary sugar.
- 2 oz. low-fat Greek yogurt
- 0.7 oz. oats
- ½ scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ cup almond milk
- Almonds and berries (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Stevia
- Blend the yogurt, protein powder, cocoa powder, Stevia, and almond milk with a blender.
- Pour into a bowl and fold in the oats.
- Cover with a lid or foil and set it in the refrigerator overnight.
- In the morning, take it out of the fridge and stir it up.
- Enjoy with almonds, berries, or the topping of your choice.
3. Pre-Workout Green Smoothie
This healthy green smoothie will quickly become one of your favorites if you’re a fan of smoothies. It’s packed with healthy fats and carbs for long-lasting energy powered by greens and fruit.
- 1 cup spinach
- ½ cup coconut water
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup frozen pineapple
- ½ cup frozen peach
- ½ banana
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (optional)
- 1 serving Protein Smoothie Boost (optional)
- Mix the spinach, coconut water, and water in a blender.
- Add the frozen fruit and coconut oil.
4. Apricot and Almond Energy Bars
From A Sweet Pea Chef
These energy bars are delicious healthy snacks, full of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and don’t require any baking. Replace your high-sugar energy bar with this one and reap the health benefits.
- 1 1/2 cups raw almonds
- 1 1/2 cups dried apricots
- 1 cup dates, pitted
- 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 3 tbsp flaxseed meal
- 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Process the almonds in a food processor until they’re crumbly.
- Add the dried apricots, dates, coconut, flaxseed meal, lemon zest, and cinnamon.
- Mix all the ingredients until they’re thoroughly combined and stick together.
- Line a baking dish with parchment paper and put the mix into the dish.
- Push the mixture down flat and evenly with another sheet of parchment paper (so it doesn’t stick to your hands). Make sure it’s pressed evenly into the dish and is as level as possible.
- Place the dish in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes and allow the mixture to harden.
- Remove the dish from the fridge and lay the hardened mixture onto a cutting board. Slice it into strips to create individual bars. (This recipe makes about 12-14 bars.)
- Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
5. Tzatziki Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad
From Bowl of Delicious
This delicious, creamy chicken salad boasts Greek and Mediterranean flavors and can be eaten on a small piece of toast, crackers, or right off the spoon for the perfect snack.
- 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cucumber grated (liquid squeezed out with a clean towel)
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs (parsley, mint, chives, scallions, and/or dill)
- 1 small clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or red wine vinegar
- kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix.
- Cover and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat it.
- Serve in pita bread, atop lettuce, or with crackers or toast.
6. Turkey Avocado Wrap
From The Monogrammed Mom
This is less of a sandwich-type “wrap.” It’s essentially just turkey wrapped around some carrots and avocado, but it’s the perfect snack to fuel your workouts. Not to mention, it’s so easy and quick to make and is Paleo and Whole 30 approved.
- 4 oz thickly sliced deli turkey
- 1 small avocado sliced
- 1 carrot shredded
- Grab 2 slices of turkey and layer them flat on a cutting board or plate.
- Put ¼ of the avocado and shredded carrots on top and slowly roll it, being careful not to rip the turkey.
7. Tropical Trail Mix
From Ambitious Kitchen
If you’re a fan of trail mix, you’ll love this fruity mix featuring all the delicious flavors of the Caribbean. Definitely add this one to your normal household rotation of healthy snacks.
- 1/2 cup banana chips or plantain chips
- 2 cups toasted oat cereal
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup flaked coconut
- 1 cup freeze-dried mango
- Dump all the ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Pre-portion into small, snack-sized portions.
- Store in your pantry or a cool, dry place.
8. Peach Recovery Smoothie
This smoothie is refreshing, full of fresh flavor, and packed with healthy carbs and protein. It’s also very simple and quick to throw together, making it the perfect post-workout snack to help your body recover from strenuous exercise.
- 1 cup low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1 cup pure coconut water
- 2 peaches, pitted and quartered
- 1 banana, peeled and broken in half
- ½ cup ice cubes
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. (Use frozen fruit or add extra ice cubes for an extra cold and refreshing smoothie.)
9. Pre-Workout Gummies
From What Molly Made
Sometimes you just don’t feel like preparing solid healthy snacks. Instead, make these gummies ahead of time and enjoy a handful when you need a quick energy boost before a workout.
- 1 serving of your favorite pre-workout mixed with 1 cup of water
- 4 tablespoons gelatin
You’ll also need a gummy mold and a dropper for this recipe.
- Heat the pre-workout powder and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until it’s steaming.
- Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the gelatin a little bit at a time.
- Once the gelatin is fully dissolved, remove the pan from heat and fill your choice of gummy molds with the mixture using a dropper. (Try to do this without getting any bubbles in the molds.)
- Place the gummy mold in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
- Once cooled, pop the gummies out of the molds. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
10. Rainbow Cottage Cheese Bowl
From Ambitious Kitchen
These bowls are really easy to make and provide a satisfying snack with real, whole, and simple ingredients like cottage cheese, fresh fruit, and granola.
- 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 1/4 cup granola
- 1/2 banana
- 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
- 1/2 kiwi, sliced
- 1/4 cup blueberries
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Sprinkle of cinnamon
- Add cottage cheese to a bowl.
- Top with the remaining ingredients and enjoy right away.
Other healthy snacks that don’t require any cooking
We get it—sometimes you’re just busy and only have a few minutes to throw together a quick snack before your workout. In those instances, here are some alternative ideas for healthy snacks that don’t require any cooking or preparation but will still provide proper nutrition and energy to fuel your workouts:
- Banana and peanut butter
- Apple and peanut butter
- Greek yogurt, fruit, and honey
- Toast and peanut butter
- Toast and one hard-boiled egg
- Cereal and milk
- Sun butter and dates
- Protein shake made with milk
- Cup of milk and a granola bar
- Cottage cheese with pineapple and whole grain crackers
- Half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a cup of milk