A Sports Dietitian's 6 Favorite Performance Snacks

A busy schedule can derail proper nutrition for athletes. STACK Expert Heather Mangieri recommends six healthy performance snacks to keep you at your peak.

Trail Mix

Enough research has been presented so that active people know the importance of healthy eating. Athletes especially should understand the significance of timing fueling around workouts, games and practices for optimum performance. (Still unsure? Read Time Your Fueling for Peak Performance.)

Your schedule (and a little thing called life) often get in the way of doing what you know is best. But as an athlete (or as an active individual), you require more calories than your sedentary counterparts.

When you have a busy lifestyle, making sure you've got healthy snacks—pre-planned, prepared and portable—will help you get what you need when you need it. Here are six of my favorite portable performance snacks. They all contain the nutritional components you need throughout the day. (Want more? See 3 Great Snacks for Athletes.)

Performance Snacks 

Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts

Non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt mixed with fruit and a tablespoon of nuts forms a great combination of carbohydrates, protein and other essential nutrients active people need. I recommend almonds or walnuts.

Nut butter & jelly or hummus sandwich

Peanut butter & jelly or hummus sandwiches (made on whole wheat bread) are portable and quick to prepare. (See Lunch Box Special: Tobin Heath's Old-School Pre-Game Favorite.)

Low-fat chocolate milk

Research has shown that chocolate milk is a great recovery beverage. It provides the right mix of carbohydrates, protein and essential vitamins and minerals. Pair it with a piece of fruit for slightly more calories. (See Chocolate Milk: A Well-Balanced Recovery Drink.)

Homemade trail mix

Gather a variety of nuts, dried fruits and your favorite whole grain cereal and make a portable trail mix. Remember to keep the amount you eat in check. Nuts contain healthy fats, but too many will leave you feeling too full. (Homemade Trail Mix: The Ideal Grab-N-Go Snack.)

Cottage cheese and fruit

Mix low-fat cottage cheese with your favorite fresh fruit. This is another example of balancing a high quality protein source with a healthy carbohydrate.

Whole-wheat crackers, string cheese and fruit

For a balanced snack plate, combine three or four whole grain crackers with a piece of string chees and a small piece of fruit.

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