One of the biggest challenges athletes have during the school year is continuing solid performance fueling during school hours. Challenges of no snacks in class, no nuts in snacks and other roadblocks can threaten to derail efforts to consistently fuel muscles during the day. However, with the right snacks and a little discreteness, there is no need to arrive at afternoon practice starving. These snacks are also great for work, in the car or walking across campus.
Before reading through the list of snack options, remember the cardinals of building a solid snack: a source of carbohydrate (fruit, grains, dairy) plus a source of protein (nuts, seeds, protein or animal meat). While some of those foods like deli meat or yogurt won't appear on this list because they are not shelf stable, it is good to remember that they can be a part of a great snack when available.
Performance-Enhancing, Shelf-Stable Snacks
- Peanut butter & jam/honey sandwich
- Sunbutter or soy nut butter & jam/honey sandwich*
- Trail mix of dried fruit, nuts and your favorite whole grain cereal
- Trail mix of dried fruit, seeds and your favorite whole grain cereal*
- Granola bars: my favorites are Clif bars, Picky Bars, Kind Bars and Luna Bars
- Energy bites: there are many recipes available online, but look for great ones to include a nut butter or seed butter, whole grain oats, chia seeds or flaxseeds, honey and even chocolate chips!*
- Piece of fruit with nuts or seeds*
- Piece of fruit with lean turkey or beef jerky
- Whole grain crackers, bagel or English muffin topped with peanut butter, sunflower seed or soy nut butter*
- Dry cereal that is high in protein, such as Kashi cereals*
- Whole grain cracker topped with tuna (buy in packets)*
- A piece of fruit or dried fruit with a container of shelf-stable low-fat chocolate milk*
This is certainly not an all-inclusive list, so get creative and find what works for you, your family or your athlete. If you have the challenge of no snacks in class, eat in passing period, choosing foods that are quick and easy to eat, such as trail mix (only about 1/2 cup is needed), energy bites or a granola bar.
Kate is the owner of RDKate Sports Nutrition Consulting, based out of Naperville, Illinois, where she offers expertise in sports nutrition, eating disorders/disordered eating, intuitive eating and weight management for sport. Katie holds a master’s degree in nutrition with an emphasis in exercise physiology. She is both a registered dietitian and one of only 550 RDs in the United States to be board-certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. As a runner, triathlete, snowboarder and rock climber, Katie understands the physical and mental challenges of being a top athlete. Katie has previously consulted with NCAA Division I and Division III, NFL and NBA athletes; she truly brings both her knowledge and experience to the table as sports dietitian. Katie is available for individual consulting, team talks and group seminars. Visit her website at RDKate.com; from there you can navigate to her weekly blog, Eat to Compete, and connect with her on Twitter or Facebook. Contact her directly at YourRDKate@gmail.com.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.