If you’re training for a race, it’s important to make sure you’re not only prepared for those workout sessions, but also for your daily meals and snacks. Don't forget: Your body needs nutrition to perform at its best.
Still, life can get hectic. You might be rushing from one appointment to the next and not have time to grab something healthy on the go, or to eat altogether. Unfortunately, if you’re not fueling throughout the day and keeping your metabolism up, energy levels will decrease. And, you will likely have poor performance during your workouts, in addition to feeling more lethargic overall.
That’s where meal prepping can come in handy. If you set aside a day or two of the week to prepare and store your snacks so they’re ready to eat when you need them, you can save a ton of time AND hassle. You can also guarantee you’re getting adequate nutrition to stay on track with your goals. Here are a few tips to simplify the process, as suggested by dietitian Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN.
Prep Overnight Oats
If you’re preparing for a long or intense workout, and it's been more than an hour since you woke up, a low-protein, low-fat version of overnight oats may be better than a small snack so you don't get weighed down while training.
“Prep with low-protein almond or cashew milk, plus a lower-fiber fruit like raisins or bananas,” Jones said.
You can do this on a Sunday night or during a meal-prep day of the week, and then simply keep a stash in the fridge. Come morning, the oats are ready to eat.
Try Energy Bites
For afternoon pre-workout fueling, it can’t get easier than grabbing an energy bite.
“It’s even better when they’re homemade, so take some time to make some energy bites with oats, a ripe banana, flax, nut butter, and anything else you’d want to add for flavor and satisfaction, like raisins or mini dark chocolate chips,” she said.
You can make a big batch of bites at once for ready-to-eat snacks all week long. Have one to four bites depending on your personal needs, the workout ahead, and how much time you have before training — this will make sure your body is prepped well. And if it’s for recovery afterwards, think similarly and get in a good mix of carbs and protein.
Sample Smoothie Bags
“If you deal with post-exercise appetite suppression, liquid nutrition is the best way to replenish energy and protein,” Jones said.
To make it easier on busy days, add your favorite frozen fruit, fresh or frozen greens, avocado, and protein powder to freezer bags and keep them packaged and ready for when you want to blend it up and enjoy.
“Then your ingredients are measured, and you'll only have to add liquid to blend,” she said.
Make Hard-Boiled Eggs
“Post-workout, you want to get in high-quality protein," Jones said. "To do so quickly — and if you'll be home within 30 minutes of training — hard-boiled eggs are a great option to pair with crackers or fruit to replenish your energy and kickstart muscle repair before it's time for a meal."
Plus, they’re great for portable breakfasts, too! Make a large batch at once to save time and energy in the kitchen.
“If you're on the go and can bring a cooler, that's a great option, too,” she said.
Prep Homemade Protein Bars
You can easily make your own healthy protein bars at home and in a large batch, so you can keep them handy in your car, at the office, in your work desk, or in your gym bag.
“Having your post-workout refuel on the go may be ideal, but a simple protein packet with water doesn't replenish the energy you lost and can mean using protein for energy, rather than repair,” Jones said.
Related: How to Pick a Better Protein Bar
“To get in the carbs you need, you can make your own protein bars with dates, protein, and peanut butter, and pack them for when you're training away from home,” she explained.
Try these snickerdoodle protein bars that Jones recommended, which you can make multiple batches of at once and freeze for later use.