10 Healthy Gas Station Snacks for Athletes

10 Healthy Gas Station Snacks for Athletes

10 Healthy Gas Station Snacks for Athletes

Whether traveling to a tournament, headed on a road trip, or just stopping to fill the car with gas, it can be helpful to know what snacks to choose at a gas station. Let’s take a look at how to build a snack that meets an athlete’s sports nutrition needs. Then we will explore ideas for healthy gas station snacks for athletes.

Build a Healthy Snack

When building a healthy snack, it can be helpful to view the snack as a “mini-meal” aimed at helping you meet your sports performance needs. With the snack, athletes should plan to include a good source of carbohydrates as well as lean protein.

Build Healthy Gas Station Snacks

Components of a Healthy Snack

Carbohydrates provide athletes with the energy needed to perform at their best. Athletes can get carbohydrates in their diets from fruit, grains, starchy vegetables, milk, and yogurt.

Lean protein provides athletes with the building blocks necessary to build and repair muscle mass. When it comes to protein intake, athletes are encouraged to spread protein throughout the day with several meals and snacks (1). Athletes can add protein to their meals and snacks from the following sources:

  • Meat, pork, chicken, turkey, seafood, eggs
  • Milk, Greek yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese
  • Soy milk, tofu, edamame
  • Beans, nuts, nut butters, seeds

Drinks With Your Snack

Don’t forget about the importance of hydration when planning your snacks. Dehydration can negatively impact sports performance and also increases the risks of developing a heat illness (2). Athletes should focus on including a beverage with their snack that can help them with meeting their hydration needs.

There are a variety of healthy drinks available at the gas station that athletes can choose from, including: bottled water, low-fat milk, 100% fruit juice, and sports drinks.

Healthy Gas Station Snacks for Athletes

Now that you are aware of the components of a healthy snack, let’s take a look at ideas for healthy gas station snacks for athletes. By pairing carbohydrate-rich snacks with snacks providing protein, athletes can enjoy a nutritious snack on-the-go.

Healthy Gas Station Snack #1: Fruit

At most gas stations athletes can find a limited variety of fresh fruit, such as apples, bananas, and oranges. Fresh fruit provides carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, as well as fiber. Thus, fresh fruit is a great choice for athletes. Keep in mind, fresh fruit that is not peeled before eating (i.e., apples) should be washed before it is consumed.

In addition to fresh fruit, dried fruit is another healthy gas station snack for athletes. Dried fruit provides a condensed source of carbohydrates along with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (3). Aside from raisins, look for other types of packaged dried fruit such as cranberries, pineapple, mango, and papaya.

Applesauce and fruit cups are also convenient snacks athletes can find at a gas station. When selecting fruit cups, look for those that are packaged in natural juices rather than heavy syrups. Applesauce now comes in convenient squeeze pouches, eliminating the need for a spoon to enjoy it in the car.

Healthy Gas Station Snack #2: Nuts and Nut Butter

Nuts are a healthy snack item that athletes can get at the gas station. Nuts contain protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them a nutritious option for athletes. In addition to peanuts, consider trying other varieties of nuts such as almonds, cashews, pistachios, or a mixed nut blend.

Single-serving containers or squeeze pouches of nut butters are also a convenient way to add healthy fats and protein to your snack. Try adding nut butter as a topping on whole grain crackers, crunchy granola bars, or graham crackers for a nutritious snack on-the-go.

Nuts and Nut Butter

Healthy Gas Station Snack #3: Seeds

Seeds are a convenient healthy gas station snack option for athletes. Seeds contain protein, healthy fats, fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals. At the gas station, look for pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds to enjoy as part of your snack.

Healthy Gas Station Snack #4: Bars

Gas stations sell a variety of bars that can be a quick and easy snack for athletes. Look for bars that are made with whole grains and contain limited added ingredients aside from dried fruit and nuts. In addition to granola bars, athletes can find fig bars, breakfast bars, and sports bars at the gas station to enjoy.

Healthy Gas Station Snack #5: Baked Chips, Pretzels, and Snack Crackers

At the gas station, athletes can find a variety of baked chips, pretzels, pita chips, as well as snack crackers. These are healthier gas station snack options than traditional chips, which are fried and typically higher in saturated fat.

When looking at snack cracker options, don’t forget about animal crackers, graham crackers, Cheez-It® Baked Snack Crackers, Goldfish®, as well as Chex MixTM. All of these options provide carbohydrates and can be an enjoyable option for the car.

It is worth noting that many of these snack options also contain sodium. Salty snacks can help athletes with replacing the sodium lost in sweat. Food that is salty also helps stimulate thirst (2), thus encouraging athletes to drink and meet their hydration needs.

Healthy Gas Station Snack #6: Jerky

Purchasing beef or turkey jerky at the gas station is an easy way for athletes to add protein to their snack. On average, 1-oz of beef or turkey jerky contains 9-12 grams of protein depending on the brand.  Jerky does not need refrigeration and is mess-free making it a convenient gas station snack option for athletes.

Healthy Gas Station Snack #7: Greek Yogurt

In the refrigerated section of the gas station, athletes can purchase individual containers of Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is packed with protein and a great addition to an athlete’s snack.

For added carbohydrates with your Greek yogurt, enjoy a package of graham crackers. Athletes can also purchase an individual box of whole grain breakfast cereal to stir into the yogurt.

Keep in mind that Greek yogurt must be held cold. If you purchase Greek yogurt for a snack, it needs to be either eaten or stored in an ice chest when you get back in the car.

Greek Yogurt

Healthy Gas Station Snack #8: Cheese Sticks

Cheese sticks can also be found in the refrigerated section of many gas stations. Cheese sticks, including string cheese, provide ~6-7 grams of protein per stick. Thus, they are a convenient option for athletes looking to add protein to their snack. Similar to Greek yogurt, cheese sticks should be held cold in an ice chest until eaten.

Healthy Gas Station Snack #9: Hummus

Hummus is a nutritious snack option that is often available at gas stations. Hummus is made with chickpeas, which provide carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. 

Single-serving containers of hummus make a great dip for pretzels, pita chips, or whole grain crackers. Typically, hummus is sold in the refrigerated section of the gas station and should be held cold prior to eating.

Healthy Gas Station Snack #10: Trail Mix

Prepackaged trail mix can be a convenient gas station snack for athletes. Look for trail mix varieties that include a variety of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. To boost the carbohydrate content of the trail mix, consider enjoying some pretzels along with it.

10 Ideas for Healthy Gas Station Snacks

Healthy Gas Station Snacks for Athletes

You are now set with 10 ideas for healthy gas station snacks athletes can enjoy on the road. By carefully selecting snacks at the gas stations, athletes can find options that support their sports nutrition needs.

For additional sports nutrition tips to support athletes when traveling, check out my blog: Easy Hotel Room Food Ideas for Athletes.

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About the Author

Mandy is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine.  Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. Learn more about the work Mandy does here.

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