Snacking and exercise

Snacking and exercise

If you are exercising for long periods of time, choosing the right snacks can make all the difference.

Whether you are tramping, cycling, playing tennis, swimming or working out at the gym, being well fuelled and hydrated is the key to success.

Long treks and triathlons

With long treks such as the Tongariro Crossing; a 17km trek that takes between seven and nine hours to complete;  you'll need a combination of carbohydrate and protein over the day to keep your body in top form.

This is also the case with the cycle leg of triathlons; which are usually the second leg of the race and you need to refuel after the swimming leg and prepare for the run.

Good snacks include tuna and salad rolls, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, marmite sandwiches, milky drinks like Up & Go and Calci Trim Liquid Breakfast, muesli or cereal bars, fruit buns, pikelets, dried fruit and nuts.

The type of food that you choose will depend on how well your stomach tolerates it. Some people find solid foods helpful, others prefer liquids and gels.

To keep well hydrated, aim for 600ml to 1 litre of fluid each hour; whether that be plain water or sports drinks.

With the triathlon, aim for 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour during the cycle.


After a morning swim, re-hydrating and refuelling are a priority. A snack that is a mixture of carbohydrate and protein is ideal.

Try a peanut butter and banana sandwich, a low-fat yoghurt drink and a piece of fruit, a fruit bun and flavoured milk or Up & Go.

After the gym

After exercise your aim is to replenish your carbohydrate stores and maximise muscle repair. Try to have a mixed carbohydrate-rich and protein-rich meal within an hour of finishing.

If your main meal is likely to be more than an hour away, have a small snack while you are waiting such as yoghurt and fruit or a glass of milk.

Your evening meal should ideally consist of lean meat, fish or tofu, some pasta, rice, potato or noodles and vegetables or a salad.


Provided you have eaten before you play tennis, it may not be necessary to eat during the game. It depends on how you are feeling. If you find that you are low in energy during the last few sets, or are losing concentration, then it may be a good idea to try a small carbohydrate-rich snack during the game, such as a banana or small cereal bar or even a sports drink that contains carbohydrate.

If you find that you have no issue with concentration or fatigue, then there's no need to snack.

Remember that being well hydrated is also essential. Keep a drink bottle by the side of the court every time you play and take a mouthful at every possible opportunity.

Author: Claire Turnbull

Healthy Food Guide

First published: Oct 2007

2017-04-03 16:57:22

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