Why Healthy Snacks Help Athletes Maintain Weight and Perform Better

January 9, 2013 | Kait Fortunato

Must See Nutrition Videos

Snacking is often associated with junk food, late night eating and excessive amounts of calories. However, if you select the right foods, snacks can help keep your blood sugars stable, prevent you from overeating at your next meal and maintain your ideal playing weight. Fueling at intervals throughout the day also helps you feel satisfied and more energetic.

If you go longer than five or six hours between meals, your blood sugars drop significantly and your body can suffer the effects of starvation mode. This can cause you to crave sugar, make unhealthy choices at your next meal or overeat because you are so hungry. Consuming small snacks keeps your energy levels up and your blood sugar stable without adding extra pounds.

Snacks can also help athletes achieve proper fueling before and after workouts and events. A pre-workout snack of carbohydrates and protein will help you achieve maximum performance, and a post-workout snack can help refuel your muscles. (Read How a Mid-Game Snack Can Help Performance.)

It's important to plan your snacks as you would your meals. Portion them out, sit down and eat them slowly. Try not to graze and pick throughout the day or run to the vending machine between classes or meetings. Have balanced snacks prepared and ready to go, as you do for your meals.

Healthy snacks should include a small amount of carbohydrate (about 15 grams) plus protein or healthy fats. Examples include:

  • Apple with Peanut Butter
  • Yogurt with Almonds
  • Nuts and Dark Chocolate Chips
  • Roasted Chick Peas
  • Carrots and Hummus
  • Wheat Crackers and Tuna
  • Cottage Cheese and Fruit
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Protein Bars

Photo: girl-jitsu.com

Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Must See
Dashon Goldson: Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 6,269,599
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 8,027,087
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 5,761,837

Featured Videos

Basketball Shooting Drill With Kevin Love: 5 Spots, 5 Shots Basketball Shooting Drill With Kevin Love: 5 Spots, 5 Shots Views: 243,040
Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Views: 22,319
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,097
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,576,211
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,332,865
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,498,918
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,269,514
Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling
Views: 1,174,560

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Protein intake is important for developing lean muscle mass and strength. Many times athletes find themselves eating large quantities exceeding 1.5-2...

Cookout Commandments: What to Eat (and Avoid) at Your Summer BBQ

Cookout Commandments: What to Eat (and Avoid) at Your Summer BBQ

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

The Boston Cannons' Keep It Real Eating Plan

The Boston Cannons'

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

Why You Should Say No to Diet Foods

Why You Should Say No to Diet Foods

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

10 Athlete-Approved High-Protein Cereals

10 Athlete-Approved High-Protein Cereals

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

YardBarker