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Race Fueling

What Should I Snack On And When?

Triathletes need snacks! Well-timed snacks help you fuel up before and replenish after workouts. So what should you snack on and when?

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As a sports dietitian, everyday I answer questions about snacking: “Should I be snacking between meals?” or “How much should I eat for my pre-workout snack?” or “What time should my snack(s) be?” You’ll be happy to hear that yes, triathletes need snacks! Well-timed snacks help you fuel up before and replenish after workouts 1–2 times per day. Mid-afternoon snacks maintain your energy level and prevent you from becoming too ravenous (and thus making bad choices) at dinner. Snacks also provide you opportunities to fit in all the healthy foods your body craves and needs in order to perform your best. So what should you snack on and when?

Pre-Workout

Fuel up on carbs before workouts to ensure you have the energy to give your all. Add a little protein before longer workouts and before mid-day workouts.

Snacks to try:
Oatmeal topped with Greek yogurt
– Half of a peanut butter and banana sandwich
– Split pea or pumpkin soup with whole-grain crackers
– Baked sweet potato topped with cinnamon and Greek yogurt

RELATED: 4 Protein-Rich Snacks

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Post-Workout

Reach for 15–20 grams of muscle-repairing protein plus adequate carbs to replenish spent glycogen stores. Be sure to snack within 30–60 minutes following all intense or long workouts to ensure proper recovery and help you get stronger as the season progresses.

Snacks to try:
Low-fat cottage cheese topped with 1/2 cup whole-grain cereal and 3/4 cup fruit
– Half or whole turkey sandwich and 8 ounces low-fat milk
– 1 frozen, then mashed banana mixed with 2 tablespoons wheat germ and 5 ounces plain Greek yogurt
– Black bean or lentil soup

RELATED: The Post-Workout Snack

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General Snacking

When you are looking to maximize your productivity while also improving your overall health, choose foods high in good fats, antioxidants and fiber, and big on color—and flavor. When you can, reach for super-healthy foods that often get left off of meal-time plates, and be amazed at how great you can really feel all day!

Snacks to try:

– Mix pumpkin seeds, raisins, dried blueberries and pecans + 1 Brazil nut
– Combine diced avocado, tomato, cooked soybeans, corn, olive oil, pepper and salt
– Sardines and tomato on whole-grain baguette
– Kale chips, olives and sliced fruit

RELATED: Go Bananas With This Healthy Snack

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All-Day Energy

Fueling for the marathon of life—work, errands, time with the kids and workouts squeezed in between—requires intelligent snacking as well. Skipping snacks will leave you drained, hungry and cranky. Over-snacking will leave you sluggish and sleepy. These perfectly balanced snacks include both energizing carbs and protein or fat, and will leave you feeling ready to tackle whatever the world throws at you!

Snacks to try:

– Black bean dip on whole-grain crackers
– Goat milk yogurt topped with tart cherries and hemp seeds
– Hummus and raw veggies
– 1 cup Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 1 tablespoon honey

RELATED: The Healthy Benefits Of Hummus

Lauren Antonucci, R.D., is a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, three-time Ironman finisher and the founding director of Nutrition Energy in New York City.