Between spring skiing, lake swims, trail runs, school pick-ups, and all the other adventures of everyday life, it can be a tough grind throwing healthy eating in the mix. We’re no stranger to the thirty-second snack run between gym and work, and you’d better believe the quick and easy option has got us through more than a time or two. And yet, running on toast and good intentions will only get you so far. Though no one blames you for reaching for the crisps when time comes to crunch, we’re here to tell you there’s a better option.
Enter healthy snacking for people on the go. This one’s for the explorers and stay-at-homers, the busy parents running on empty, the kids with a world out there to explore, the gym goers squeezing in a sesh whenever they can, and the ones that seem to always be knee-deep in the big outdoors. We hear you.
Here are our top, on-the-go healthy snack ideas for:
1. The Long-Haul Adventure
2. The Gym
3. The After-School Slouch
The Long-Haul, Off-Piste Adventure
Call it what you will. Your post-work surf, your weekend trail run, that full day on the slopes, the second ultra marathon this year because you live in Wānaka and it’s a right of passage. Heading off-piste is a lifestyle, synonymous with a hardy adventure that’ll guarantee a sweaty slog, a pounding heart rate, and more good endorphins than you know what to do with. But none of that matters if you can’t go the distance.
Why are nutritious snacks important for long-haul endurance sessions?
Enter, protein. Intentions are all well and good until you don’t have the push to get you over the line. Protein is key to building strength, muscle recovery, and circulating oxygen to ensure it gets to the muscles it needs to.
While protein is often associated with bulky muscles, it’s also crucial for endurance training, sustained periods of physical exercise, and adventures that will keep you moving for long periods of time. This is because protein is heavily involved with building muscle strength and aiding in muscle recovery, giving your muscles the strength needed to go further with less fatigue.
What should you look for in a good hiking snack?
Whether you’re out on a long run or a multi-day hike, your body exerts a lot of energy, and you can’t afford to carry food that won’t properly fuel your body. The lighter and more convenient the better, and the higher the nutritional value the further the snack will take you.
Look for snacks that are high in protein, healthy fats and complex carbs. You’ll want food that will give you the energy needed to keep moving, no matter where the path takes you.
Best snack ideas for the Off-Piste adventure:
1. Trail Mix
It’s in the name. The ideal mix for every trail, you’ll want a good combination of nuts, seeds, raisins, and the chocolate pieces you know you’ll pick out first. Almonds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts are a great source of protein.
3. Crackers and Instant Hummus
The post-workout endorphins are flowing, the muscles are pumping, and you’re ready to fuel up on a high-protein meal as a reward. Or you would be, if you actually had anything handy. A tasty chew goes a long way - but more than that, a well earned protein hit also packs a range of other benefits.
Why is protein an important consideration for gym goers?
Firstly, protein is important for everyone, all the time. More on that here. But protein is especially important for gym goers and active exercisers. In short, protein is an essential macronutrient required to keep your body fuelled and firing the way it should, as well as forming the building blocks of your muscles, skin, cell tissues, bones, nails, hair, and organs. Without sufficient protein coming in from your diet, the body will start breaking down your muscles in order to get the protein it needs to function. Not exactly a gym junkie's sweat dream.
However, the flipside is that regular protein intake during the day in conjunction with exercise can help facilitate the growth or maintenance of muscle. Hence why protein is so important for gym goers.
Before, during, after? When is the best time to consume protein when working out?
So, should you take your protein after the gym or before? The rule of thumb around this one is hotly debated. While some believe it’s best to get your protein before your workout, many believe the 15-30 minute window directly after your workout is best, or what is referred to as the “anabolic window”. However, recent studies have shown this window for optimising your muscle mass might be closer to 2 hours, according to the brains over at the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Whether you’re the before or after type, studies show the most important thing is to make sure you’re getting the daily protein intake you need. As long as you’re fitting enough protein in on a day-to-day basis, the whens and hows will take care of themselves.
How much protein do you need if you’re heading to the gym?
So, how much protein do you need? This one’s going to depend on a few things. Officially, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight. However, keep in mind that this is the amount needed to curb malnourishment - it’s not necessarily the ideal range of what you should be consuming to optimise or increase muscle mass.
If you’re an active gym junkie or even a moderate gym junkie, your body requires more protein than the average, healthy non-exercising Joe next to you. However, and as always, it’s best to speak to a qualified nutritionist for tailored advice. We’re just the messenger.
Best snacks for gym goers:
The After-School Slouch:
It’s tough being a kid. There’s a big world out there to explore, little legs to do it, and a curiosity the size of a Tonka truck that you need to fuel. Good thing protein plays a crucial role in growth and development, especially among growing kids.
Why is protein important for growing kids?
At a basic level, protein is the building block for tissues such as skin, muscles, and bones. Because kids are growing so rapidly, it’s crucial their bodies receive enough protein to keep them developing as they should. Protein is also a key component of antibodies that protect the body against illness, keep kids healthy and strong, and develop a strong immune system.
On the other hand - kids that don’t receive enough protein might experience various health issues such as fatigue, slowed growth, poor concentration, and decreased immune response.
Why do kids crave an after school snack?
Children have smaller stomachs and generally higher energy levels than adults. While this doesn’t mean they need to be constantly eating, it does mean that snacks are more of a necessity for kids than they are for adults. Growing children need to eat every 2-3 hours in order to keep their blood sugar levels up and meet their daily energy needs. Think of snack time as a great opportunity to introduce more nutrients and healthy alternatives into your child’s diet.
Best after school snack ideas:
2. Veggie Pita Pockets
3. Banana Oat Cookies
So there you have it. An adventurer’s guide to healthy snacks on the go. Of course, we wouldn’t be heavily biased if we didn’t mention our own Plant-Based Provisions at least three times. High in protein, a source of iron, soy free, gluten free, and with a big enough chew to get you out and all the way home. Just saying.