Rather than reach for something wrapped in plastic, try one of these homemade alternatives instead, each used regularly by athletes and endurance experts.
Rather than reach for something wrapped in plastic, try one of these homemade alternatives instead, each used regularly by athletes and endurance experts. (Photo: Peter Hershey/Unsplash)

The Best Homemade Snacks According to the Pros

These between-meal bites are major performance boosters. And they can be whipped up fast in your kitchen.

Rather than reach for something wrapped in plastic, try one of these homemade alternatives instead, each used regularly by athletes and endurance experts.

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Whether you’re working, playing, or training outside, hunger pangs are public enemy number one. Devising the kind of snacking strategy that can keep them at bay is important for optimal performance. While there’s an entire market dedicated to packaged options (some of which we love), much of it is overpriced, flavorless, and not particularly nutritious. Rather than reach for something wrapped in plastic, try one of these homemade alternatives, field-tested by athletes and endurance experts. 

Yogurt and Berries

Matt Fitzgerald, author of The Endurance Diet

“My favorite homemade snack is plain, no-sugar-added Greek yogurt with fresh berries and a little honey. It’s naturally healthy, well-rounded (carbs, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and probiotics), easy to prepare, and delicious.”

Chips and Hot Sauce

Clare Gallagher, ultrarunner 

“I usually skip salsa altogether, because it’s never spicy enough. Way more bang for your buck to get a bottle of hot sauce and use it as salsa with tortilla chips. Salt, carbs, spice—you don’t need anything else.”

Sweet Potatoes

Margo Hayes, rock climber

“I have celiac disease and can’t eat gluten, so sweet potatoes are a staple for me. I eat one a day on average. My favorite way to prepare them is to bake them in the oven. When an oven isn’t handy I steam them, and when I’m in a hurry I use the microwave.”

Protein Pancakes

Alicia Vargo, distance runner and nutrition coach

“I eat these as a post-run recovery snack or at night just before bed. They're gluten-free and packed with plant-based protein so almost anyone can eat them! Into a bowl, throw one cup each of gluten-free pancake mix and gluten free flour, one egg, one and a half cups of coconut or almond milk, one large scoop of vanilla protein powder, and a few spoonfuls of chia seeds. Then, mix them all together until there are no lumps and cook on an iron skillet, just like you would any other pancake. Top with your favorites! I like nut butter and jam or maple syrup.”

Power Smoothie

Kikkan Randall, Olympic nordic skier 

“Smoothies are a quick and easy snack, and they’re perfect before or just after a workout. I blend one cup each of frozen blueberries and coconut water with two scoops of protein powder, one tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and half a cup of chopped spinach. Then I guzzle!”

Overnight Oats

Emily Harrington, rock climber

“This is the perfect cliff or crag snack. You can prep everything the night before for easy grab and go on early mornings. In a glass mason jar, mix one quarter cup of rolled oats and frozen raspberries, one half cup of coconut milk, a scoop of your favorite nut butter, a dollop of plain yogurt, and a handful of grain-free granola. Let sit in the fridge overnight, and then eat up!”

Rice and Eggs

Allen Lim, founder of Skratch Labs

“This is a great snack—super easy to digest and a nice balance between quick and steady energy. One cup of cooked rice and one egg contain about 265 calories, with 44 grams of carbs, nine grams of protein, five grams of fat, one gram of fiber, and about 500 milligrams of sodium, depending on the recipe. Try stirring in some olive oil, Bragg Liquid Aminos, and maybe a little parmesan.”

Trail Mix

Cat Bradley, ultrarunner and winner of the 2017 Western States 100

“It keeps me full, it’s super easy to make, and it satisfies my sweet and salty cravings. I typically use Cheerios, semisweet chocolate chips, dried fruit, and mixed salty nuts—usually cashews, brazil nuts, and pecans.” 

Superhero Muffins

Elyse Kopecky, coauthor of Run Fast, Eat Slow

“I’m obsessed with these muffins because they’re rich in healthy fats from the butter and the almond flour, so they keep you full without being uncomfortable and provide lasting energy.”


  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1⁄2 cup raisins, chopped dates, or chocolate chips (optional)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1⁄2 cup dark amber maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, walnuts, and raisins, dates, or chocolate chips. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, zucchini, carrots, butter, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each to the brim. Bake until muffins are brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes.

Lead Photo: Peter Hershey/Unsplash

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