Healthy fuel: get in my belly.
September 16, 2008 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Always hungry filter: I'm a newish runner and increasing my distance/speed little by little. What kinds of healthy snacks should I eat throughout the day?

I started running maybe 6 months ago and am getting a bit faster (~10-minute mile at the moment) and running for longer (4-5 times per week, 3-4 miles each time). I tend to graze throughout the day and as I've begun to run more, I find that I (duh) need more fuel as the day goes on. I'm just hungry, damnit!

I am committed to relatively healthy eating--I try to avoid white flour-based stuff, foods that are uber processed and anything high fat or high sugar. I tend to stick to fish and poultry, whole grains, veggies, etc. I eat an absolute ton of fresh fruit but I'd like to cut back a bit and diversify my snacks. I've recently lost a good amount of weight thanks to lifestyle change and so I am conscious of maintaining my weight and more importantly, staying fit, healthy and energetic. While I realize I need to eat to fuel my exercise and am more than happy to do so, I'd like to do it in as healthy a way as possible. I'm not one of those high metabolism runner people who wants to grab a chocolate eclair for a quick fix.

So, please help me snack throughout the day on healthy stuff. Obviously the more portable, the better but I am willing to make stuff at home and prepare things ahead of time, too.

Any other dietary tips for a newly active/athletic person are appreciated.

Oh, and, yup, I've checked other threads and gotten a few helpful ideas. Looking for more.
posted by Rudy Gerner to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Hummus with celery, bell peppers, and carrots. When you've earned it, hummus and pita bread. Also, hard boiled eggs.
posted by Science! at 9:15 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Clif bars, and clif "builder" bars when I'm doing a lot of hill (read: muscle-building) training, tend to fill me up.

Also, start pourin' back the water. Get a nalgene-style bottle, and just pour it back, half the bottle every time you get the notion for water.
posted by notsnot at 9:17 AM on September 16, 2008

A ton of fresh fruit is (great, yes) a source of a ton of sugar/calories. Cook and cut up some chicken breasts and eat them with mustard/low calorie sauce. Ramp up your proteins.
posted by Science! at 9:21 AM on September 16, 2008

Larabars are basically dates and some kind of nut (ground up) and some other kind of fruit, smushed together. They're sweet, but it's from the dates, not added sugar, and they have a lot of protein from the nuts and a lot of fiber from the dates. My 3 favourite flavours are Cherry Pie, Pecan and Cashew. They're good for portable food.

I also like yogurt. You have to check the label to make sure they aren't adding a lot of crap, but you can get some good ones if you look. You can stir fresh fruit and whole grains (like, say, granola) into it, if you like; I recommend against the ones that come with their own granola because they're really sweet. Not as portable because of the need for refrigeration, though. I used to live near a coffee shop that sold the layered fruit/yogurt/granola combo with frozen berries as the fruit, and the berries kept it cool for several hours so I could buy it on my way to work and eat it safely for a mid-morning snack with no refrigeration.

Whole grain bagels with a little cream cheese or peanut butter (not globbed on, but spread thin the way you'd spread butter).

I like baby spinach with slivered almonds and shredded carrot as a snack. Like a salad without the dressing, I guess. Just baby spinach on its own can be a finger food.

Seconding the water recommendation. I've read where there's some question about the safety of drinking from plastics - can't tell if this is hysteria or real, but it's easy enough to get a glass water bottle just in case.
posted by joannemerriam at 9:40 AM on September 16, 2008

One snack that is super satisfying for me is popcorn. I'll often split a bag with my officemate once a week or so. Those snack-size bags (100-calorie bags, whatever) are perfect for one person as well. It is high in carbs, yes, but much less sugar than fruit or cookies. Just don't eat too much -- I get a stomach ache if I overdo it. I skip the super-lite stuff and go for Orville's Tender White microwavable stuff -- real butter but not too much and not overly horrible for you, and the best tasting microwave popcorn I have found. It still only has 40 cal/cup, and I usually have 2 cups or so.

I am also in the same boat -- starting to work out more and not wanting to negate all of those hard-earned lost pounds!
posted by sararah at 9:50 AM on September 16, 2008

When I added two nights of weight lifting per week to my two nights of cardio, I started waking up with a headache every single morning. I finally realized it was because I wasn't getting enough calories; my body tends to slap me with a headache instead of just hunger pangs in these situations. Thanks, body!

Anyway, I found that eating five mini-meals per day helped this immensely. In addition to my standard breakfast, lunch, dinner, I also ate a yogurt and sometimes a piece of fruit at mid-morning, and trail mix in the late afternoon. These are portable and, in the case of the fruit and trail mix, I can bring enough for the week to work on Monday morning and just leave them on my desk. Then I just grab a yogurt every morning from the fridge at home. I don't know if they have Trader Joe's where you are, but their trail mix selection is nuts (yuk yuk). It's not cheap no matter where you go (hint: making it yourself is not cheaper, sadly) but it's a great source of energy. A few handfuls stave off the afternoon sleepies.
posted by autojack at 11:04 AM on September 16, 2008

I mix dates, dried blueberries (Trader Joe's), raisins and raw almonds in a bag every morning and take that to work. It speaks to my inner Bedouin, who's apparently concerned about fiber.
posted by Haruspex at 11:05 AM on September 16, 2008


Or really any nuts. They are calorie dense, but a few will fill you up for a long while since the fat is very satiating.
posted by 26.2 at 12:24 PM on September 16, 2008

This is not to stop the flow, just to cut in with questions:

These are all terrific suggestions, thank you. I'll definitely be adding raw veggies, cooked chicken, lots of water, and Larabars to my snacking routine. Maybe even some popcorn.

Does anyone have specific trail mix recommendations? I'd always stayed away because I'd heard that it's either high in salt and fat (I guess it's "good" fat, though, as long as the nuts are raw or dry roasted rather than super oily?) or high in sugar from the dried fruit. If anyone has tried and true brands/flavors or whatever, please let me know. My fear of dried fruit, is, I guess, unfounded.

I'll be visiting Trader Joe's asap to see what all they offer...
posted by Rudy Gerner at 1:13 PM on September 16, 2008

One great suggestion I got is to always try to mix protein and fiber in any snack. So these are some of the snacks I like:

Plain yogurt with frozen fruit (cherries are great)
Multigrain bread with peanut or almond butter or cottage cheese (I usually just have half a slice of bread)
Sliced apple with cheese (small apple, 1 oz of cheese)
Sometimes I'll roll up some deli meat with mutard in a romaine leaf, but that gets weird, "are you on Atkins?" looks.
Celery with cheese, peanut butter, hummus

I like the cranberry trail mix from Trader Joes. Heavy on the nuts/seeds, light on the sweet stuff. It does have chocolate chips, but not that many.
posted by lunasol at 1:47 PM on September 16, 2008

Gosh, I like raw unsalted almonds. They really grow on a dude. See, they're crunchy, so you get something to really chomp on, but they're just yielding enough to make them a bit chewy in your mouth, too. Anyway, they've a lot of fat and protein, which I find less addictive than carby snacks (sugars and even complex carbs tend to put me on a hunger-crash-eat cycle more easily than high-fat and high-protein foods).
posted by Greg Nog at 2:51 PM on September 16, 2008

Does anyone have specific trail mix recommendations?
posted by Rudy Gerner at 4:13 PM on September 16

I make my own or get the kind that's sold by bulk, because I find the stuff that comes pre-bagged has too much sugar and salt. I don't worry so much about fat content in trail mix (because nuts are fatty, there's no way to get around that). Here's what I usually get:

- unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
- unsalted some other nut (like pecans or raw almonds* or cashews)
- dried cranberries or blueberries
- raisins (they bulk it up and are cheap - if money's not an issue, cranberries or blueberries would be better for you)
- bite-sized unfrosted Shredded Wheats (or the Kashi version, which is even tastier but more expensive)
- and a small amount of dark chocolate chips or chunks (you might want to omit these)

*which I toast myself - which is really easy, you just put them in a single layer on a baking sheet under the broiler for like a minute, keeping an eye on them because they go from done to burnt in about ten seconds
posted by joannemerriam at 3:33 PM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Fresh raw almonds
+sunflower seeds (unsalted)
+walnuts (unsalted)
yummy snack!!!f
(you can add dark chocolate chips if you want)

And for best results, keep it in the fridge. The almonds are even yummier!
posted by cachondeo45 at 5:52 PM on September 16, 2008

This might sound gross but wholegrain bread with lowfat peanut butter and bacon bits is actually pretty good and counterbalances all the sweet things that are on option and you don't have to refrigerate it. Disclaimer: this is not my choice but lots of people like it after trying.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:32 AM on September 17, 2008

As someone who has turned many a soul on to it, I second the pb & bacon bits sandwich from the person above. Use unsweetened peanut butter & add a bit of raw honey or agave nectar. A crisp piece of lettuce or some thinly sliced cucumbers add a nice crunch to round it out. Simply put, this sandwich not only pleases the taste buds but the texture pallet as well.
posted by item at 11:05 PM on September 22, 2008

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