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5 Real Food Workout Snacks

Choose a workout snack that not only fuels you for a great workout but also is packed full of nutrients. Many athletes reach for expensive sports nutrition products like gels, chomps, gummies, and bars. Although these products are specially formulated to provide the ideal macronutrients for exercise, they often are lacking in micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. Try these snacks which fit the ideal nutritional profile for fueling during exercise and boost overall nutrition with vitamins and minerals.

1. Dates

Dates are typically dried and can be found in the produce section or in the bulk bin section of the grocery store. They are rich in glucose and other forms of sugar ideal for fueling moderate to intense workouts. In addition to glucose, dates are rich in selenium, copper, magnesium, potassium, B-vitamins, and vitamin C. Dates are also a perfect serving size for training with 1 dried Medjool date containing 20g of carbohydrate. Try eating 1-2dates per hour with water or low calorie electrolyte drink mix to fuel your workout. Remember to take the pits out before eating. I recommend taking the pits our before you take them with you on your workout.

2. Bananas

The banana is a go to snack for many athletes. They are easy to pack, easy to eat, delicious, and provide a quick boost of energy before or during a workout. Bananas are rich in glucose and fructose perfect for during workouts to have a quick supply of sugar to the bloodstream. Bananas are also rich in potassium, vitamin C, and other vitamins and minerals to enhance the nutrient density of your overall diet. Try 1 medium sized banana per hour with water or low calorie electrolyte mix for a moderate to intense workout.

3. Figs

Similar to dates, figs are rich in glucose, vitamins and minerals. Figs are also a great source of zinc which helps to prevent illness and boost the immune system. Like dates they are a perfect serving size for a workout. Try eating 4 black mission figs (small dark

colored) or 1 Turkish fig per hour of exercise. Remember to cut off the hard stem before eating these or spit the stem out. I recommend cutting off the stem before you take them with you on your workout.

4. Sweet potatoes

A medium sized sweet potato contains 20g of carbohydrate. Those 20g of carbohydrate come from 13g of starch, 3g from fiber, and 4g from sugars. These deliciously sweet morsels are great for fueling longer workouts 2+hours where a steady supply of blood glucose can boost performance. They are also good sources of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. Try covering them in foil and roasting them for 1-2hours in the oven at 350degreesF for a sweet and easy to eat consistency. For a quick-and-dirty workout snack, poke holes in a sweet potato, pop it in the microwave, and press the potato button. For cyclists and runners, these are great to put in your back pocket to keep you warm in the winter in addition to be a great ride snack.

5. White potatoes

While sweet potatoes and white potatoes may seem similar, as they both have potato in the name, they are quite different in nutritional profile and plant species. White potatoes are tubers which are the energy source for the plant. This is different from a sweet potato which is a traditional root vegetable. In addition to them being different types of plant, white potatoes have a much higher proportion of sugars and faster effect on blood sugar. White potatoes have a higher glycemic index, which means their sugars hit the blood stream more quickly for a quicker and faster burning fuel source during workouts. In addition to be a great snack for short workouts, they are one of the richest sources of potassium found in foods. Try roasting them in the oven for 45-60minutes at 350dgreesF or popping them in the microwave. Try salting them to create a great balance of electrolytes to replace sodium and potassium lost in sweat.

About the author:

Kristen is a sports dietitian living in beautiful Fort Collins Colorado. In addition to owning her own sports nutrition private practice, she coaches cyclists with Source Endurance, and races bicycles professionally with ButcherBox Pro Cycling. She has a Master's of Science in Human Nutrition, is a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, and a USACycling Level2 coach. She has worked with amateur to professional athletes in a range of sports and coaches entry level to professional cyclists in mountain, road, and cyclocross disciplines.

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