Healthy Snacks


Eating foods high in sugar (either natural or refined) prior to competition results in a temporary increase in energy but quickly leads to a fast drop in energy levels. The body increases insulin production in response to the ingested sugar which lowers blood sugar levels and results in decreased performance. Some people are more susceptible to this than others. A good meal plus a snack before practice or competition works best for optimum energy for most people.

High carbohydratelow fat:

Snacks: Toast, canned peaches, banana bread, ½ bagel, non-fat yogurt, fruit, biscuit, small turkey sandwich, pretzels, walnuts (small handful), almonds (small handful), raw or freshly baked unsalted peanuts (small handful), 2 or 3 saltine crackers with a little peanut butter, 1 plain low fat yogurt with 1 granola bar crumbled in.

Prior to a competition allow 1 hour for a small snack & a high carbohydrate beverage, 2-3 hours for a small meal and 3-4 hours for a large meal to digest.

Foods containing the most nutrients per kilocalories provided are called high nutrient dense foods. These foods are the healthiest foods per serving. For example, broccoli has a moderate kcalorie value per serving but is loaded with nutrients. Junk food, such as candy, is low in nutrients but is high in calories, therefore, candy is a low nutrient dense food and should be eaten sparingly.

Foods rated from High nutrient density to Low nutrient density:

Raw vegetables
Fruit or vegetable juice concentrate without added sugar or corn syrup products
Cereal (non-sweetened)
Skim milk with Vitamin D added
Fresh fruit
Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
Fat-free yogurt, flavored or with added fruit
Milkshake made with skim milk
Rolls, bread, bagels, vitamin fortified, whole grains are best
Peanut butter
Graham crackers
Ice cream, frozen yogurt
Dried fruit
Crackers, pretzels
Cookies or cake
Canned fruit
Granola bars
Potato chips
Pies, pastry, doughnuts

Soft drinks

Snack Ideas

picture of apple and a lemon One slice of 100% whole grain pita bread with a teaspoon of jam or jelly, peanut butter, hummus, peanut butter and honey, banana slices and peanut butter.

1/2 bagel with peanut butter, pb & j, or pb & honey.

Fat-free yogurt: with granola added, coconut, peanuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, trail mix, or banana slices.

Your favorite nutritious dry cereal with trail mix additions such as dried fruit, peanuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Popcorn with added parmesan cheese sprinkled on or other spices such as cumin, red pepper, salt, black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder....whatever you like. No butter, margarines or oils.

Smoothies: There are many ingredients with which to make these but you need a blender and, of course, your imagination:

Skim milk, soy milk plain or flavored or juice: add fat free or low fat yogurt, ice cubes, a sliced banana or any other fruit of choice, protein powder, wheat germ or flax meal, low fat frozen yogurt, peanut butter, strawberry or chocolate flavored milk powders, powdered milk, or instant coffee (decaf or regular), cinnamon or nutmeg. Good fruits to use are bananas, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, kiwis, berry combinations, or canned cherries. Fruit may be fresh, canned or frozen.

Ex: 1/2 cup skim milk, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, or 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt, spice and sweetener to taste. Blend until smooth. Makes one serving which includes two servings of dairy and one serving of fruit. Can also add 1/2 cup of fruit juice concentrate or ice cubes as well.

Baby carrots, broccoli spears, celery, or cauliflower chunks dipped in yogurt with added spices or sweetener to taste. Spices may include: dill, celery seed, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, sweetener, minced pineapple, chives, cinnamon....whatever you like.

Baked potato with salsa (microwave potato). Avoid butter, margarine, sour cream or cheese although a light sprinkling of parmesan cheese just for taste is okay.

Pretzel sticks dipped in peanut butter and honey.

Fruit cups with teaspoonsful of yogurt or small teaspoons of frozen yogurt added into it.

Celery sticks filled with peanut butter or fat free cream cheese, low fat cheese spread, or low fat yogurt dip--create your own!

Apple halves with peanut butter spread thinly on top.

Apple pieces with low skim mozzarella cheese stick.

Reduced Fat Triscuit or other whole wheat crackers with toppings such as: fresh tomato slices, low skim mozzarella shredded cheese, sliced black olives, sliced apples, peanut butter, jelly or jam, salsa.

Rice cakes with peanut butter, honey, jam or jelly, tuna salad, refried beans or chicken salad thinly (just a taste) spread on top.

A small handful of raw almonds, walnuts, pecans or raw peanuts. Raw nuts avoids the extra grease and salt.




Alters S, and Schiff W. Essential Concepts for Healthy Living. (3rd Ed.). Boston. pp. 536. 2003.

Bonci L. Nutrition Conditioning Goals for Athletes. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health System. 2004.

Clark, N. Sports Nutrition Guidebook (3rd Ed.). Human Kinetics.2003.

Jasonides, A. Lecture: Sports Nutrition: The Basics. 3/19/2001.


Last updated 11/7/2006 by MIT Sports Medicine: K. Davis

Copyright by MIT 2005