Eating the right foods when you work out can boost your energy, improve your performance and even help to curb later soreness. But with so many sports drinks, supplements and energy bars out there, it’s hard to know where to begin. We chatted with our favorite Northwest experts to find out what easy-to-grab foods keep them going.
After speaking with a wide range of fitness pros, from spin instructors to Olympic swimmers to hikers, we found there were several constants: everyone loves fruit, nuts and lots and lots of water. That said, there were some surprises. So take a close look at our findings below — you may just find some new favorite snacks for your workout or outdoor adventure.
How to Pre- and Post-Fuel for Your Next Swimming Workout
Ariana Kukors, Olympic Swimmer
As an Olympic training swimmer, Ariana needs the fuel to help her perform her best for long, tough workouts.
Try some of her favorite foods below — snacks that will absorb quickly and won’t make you too full.
- Raw nuts and dried fruit
- Beef Jerky
- Chocolate protein shake (Ariana loves Juice Plus)
- Coconut water
“Being properly fueled to make the most out of your workouts is SO important. I like to make sure I get enough in my body before and after to gain all the benefits from the workout,” Ariana explains.
What to Pack in Your Backpack for Your Next Hiking Adventure
Craig Romano, Northwest outdoors writer and hiking guidebook author
As a local outdoors writer, Craig spends many of his days exploring new hikes in the Northwest and is always prepared with snacks while on the trail.
“I prefer real food over gels and sport bars, but I always carry a few of the latter for emergency energy pickups,” Craig says. “And I always pack more food than I need so if I’m forced to spend an unplanned night out, I have plenty of food.”
So, what’s always in Craig’s backpack?
The Real Stuff:
- Water and water-purifying tablets
- Chocolate, pistachios or yogurt-covered raisins
- Fig or breakfast barFruit (often an apple or pear)
- Grain crackers or graham crackers
- Bagel with cashew butter
The Energy Boosters:
- Beef jerky
- One Gu packet
- One Clif bar
- Dried fruit
Learn more about Craig’s favorite northwest hiking trails in our Health in Action series.
Best Snacks to Keep the Kids Going on the Trail
Shanti Hodges, founder of Hike it Baby
Hiking alone is one thing. But with kids? It’s a whole different game.
“I always look for yummy and easy-to-grab snacks. I don’t want [my baby] having a fussy fit on the trail because he isn’t getting the food he wants.”
Photo courtesy of Shanti Hodges.
- Peanut butter, banana and honey sandwiches
- Sliced apples
- Nuts (cashews are more baby-friendly)
- Baby carrot sticks
Running Out the Door Snacks:
- Clif and Lara bars
- Fruit leather
- Mini peanut butter sandwiches
- Applesauce packets
- String cheese
And what about those times when the kids just plop down on the trail and don’t want to go on? Shanti’s secret weapons are lollipops sweetened with fruit juice.
Learn more about Shanti’s advice for hiking with kids in our Health in Action series.
The Best Energy Boost Before Hitting the Yoga Mat
Jenniferlyn Chiemingo, Seattle-based hot yoga instructor at hauteyoga Queen Anne
Anyone who’s tried it known there’s nothing worse than bringing a full stomach to a hot yoga class. That’s why yoga instructor Jenniferlyn keeps it simple before sessions, looking for light snacks that won’t upset her stomach but will keep her hydrated.
- Bananas and all-natural peanut butter
- Lots of water (a gallon per day)
A gallon of water a day may be too much for some, but Jenniferlyn swears by it. “Since I teach 10 hot yoga classes a week, I know it keeps me hydrated and at my best. Friends have even remarked how healthy and glowing I look,” she says. “And for someone always in yoga pants and always sweaty … this is remarkable.”
Learn more about Jenniferlyn and her beginner yoga tips in our Health in Action series.
What to Eat to Get the Most Out of Your Next Cycling Class
Lia Marley, Bellevue Flywheel Instructor
As a longtime cycling and fitness instructor, Lia Marley found that the best snacks for your workout are really whatever feels best for your own body.
- Apple slices and almond butter
- Hard-boiled eggs
- A full, healthy meal (aim for a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, prioritized in that order)
“If you ever feel hungry or like you don’t have enough energy to make it through your workout, consider eating a snack one to two hours before class,” she says. “But, if you feel uncomfortably full and the quality of your workout is diminished, consider timing your meals three to four hours before class.”
Lia times her workouts before dinner so she can go home and refuel. “Protein supports muscle repair and growth, carbohydrates replenish any depleted glycogen stores, and fat helps you feel full and satisfied,” she explains.
Going Beyond the Gu on Your Next Long Run
Beth Baker, Chief Running Officer at Running Evolution
For Beth, snacks are totally dependent on distance. But one thing is for certain: “It’s all about the protein to help rebuild muscles.”
Here are Beth’s go-to snacks for each distance.
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Chocolate milk (easy to get down when you’re not keen on eating)
- On-the-go Gu or sports beans
- Tuna sandwich (when you’re back home)
Learn more about Beth’s running business and winter running tips in our Health in Action series.