Best Refrigerated Snacks for Athletes

15 Best Refrigerated Snacks for Athletes

15 Best Refrigerated Snacks for Athletes

It can be helpful for athletes to have ideas for the best refrigerated snacks to support their sports nutrition needs.

Let’s explore 15 healthy refrigerated snacks that athletes can add to their meal plans.

15 Refrigerated Snacks Athletes Can Enjoy

#1 Hard-Boiled Eggs

A hard-boiled egg is a nutrient-dense refrigerated snack that provides protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (1).

Athletes can meal prep hard-boiled eggs on the weekend to have available as a healthy snack during the week. Once eggs have been hard-boiled they should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 7 days (2). 

If athletes don’t want to boil the eggs on their own, they can purchase eggs that have already been hard-boiled at the grocery store. 

The premade hard-boiled eggs come peeled and ready-to-eat. Thus, they can be a convenient addition to a nutritious snack for athletes.

Hard Boiled Eggs Refrigerated Snack Option

#2 Cottage Cheese: High-Protein Refrigerated Snack for Athletes

Cottage cheese is a great high-protein refrigerated snack option for athletes.

One cup of cottage cheese provides ~28 grams of protein per cup. It also contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, including: riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12, calcium, and potassium (3). 

Cottage cheese topped with fruit can be a nutrient-rich post-game snack option, supporting athletes with meeting their recovery nutrition needs.

Athletes can also blend cottage cheese into a post-workout smoothie to boost the protein and nutrient content of the drink.

Dietitian’s Pick: Cottage Cheese

My personal favorite brand of cottage cheese is Good Culture®. Good Culture® cottage cheese contains live and active cultures, which support gut health. In addition, their cottage cheese is thick and creamy, making for a delicious snack.

Cottage Cheese Post Game Snack Option

#3 Cheese Sticks

Cheese sticks, including string cheese, are an easy refrigerated snack option for athletes. They provide ~7 grams of protein per 1-oz stick (4). Thus, they are a convenient way for athletes to add protein to their snack.

Cheese sticks come individually wrapped, making them an easy snack for athletes to pack and take with them.

You can now find a variety of types of cheese sticks at the store, ranging from mozzarella, cheddar, and Colby Jack to Havarti, jalapeno cheddar, and gouda.

Athletes can also use a cheese stick to make a turkey and cheese wrap. Simply place sliced turkey deli meat and a cheese stick on a whole wheat tortilla. Then roll it up and enjoy the wrap on-the-go.

#4 Babybel® Cheese

In addition to cheese sticks, Babybel® cheese is a great refrigerated snack option for athletes. The Original Mini Babybel® Cheese provides 70 calories and 4 grams of protein per serving.

Babybel® cheese is available in a variety of flavors. In addition, they offer a dairy-free, plant-based variety that can be a good option for athletes following a vegan diet.

Athletes can pair Babybel® cheese with fresh or dried fruit, pretzels, nuts, or seeds to create a well-balanced snack that supports their sports nutrition needs.

Balanced Refrigerated Snack with Babybel Cheese

#5 Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a nutritious, high-protein refrigerated snack that I recommend athletes keep on hand. A 5.3-oz (150 g) individual container of Greek yogurt contains ~13 grams of protein (5).

There are numerous ways Greek yogurt can be enjoyed as part of a healthy snack for athletes

Consider the following ideas:

  • Purchase individual containers of Greek yogurt for a quick snack on-the-go.
  • Make a Greek yogurt and fruit parfait with fresh berries and granola.
  • Prepare Greek yogurt Ranch dip to enjoy with pita chips or fresh veggies.
  • Add Greek yogurt as a protein-rich ingredient in a fruit smoothie.
  • Use plain Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise when preparing tuna or chicken salad for added protein.

Dietitian’s Pick: Greek Yogurt

My top picks for Greek yogurt include:

How to Use Greek Yogurt

#6 Plant-Based Yogurt: Refrigerated Snack for Vegetarian Athletes

For athletes following a vegetarian or vegan diet, plant-based yogurt can be a nutritious refrigerated snack option.

The protein content of plant-based yogurts varies based on the type of plant-based milk used in the yogurt. Thus, when selecting a plant-based yogurt, I encourage athletes to review the food labels to compare the protein content between brands.

There are now some Greek-alternative plant-based yogurts available at the store. These Greek-like yogurts tend to have a higher protein content than traditional plant-based yogurts. 

Similar to traditional Greek yogurt, plant-based yogurt can be used in a parfait, blended into a smoothie, or enjoyed as a quick snack on-the-go.

#7 High-Protein Milk: Nutritious Addition to a Snack

High-protein milk is a nutritious option to keep on hand to boost the protein content of an athlete’s snack. One cup of high-protein milk, such as Fairlife® or H-E-B Mootopia®, provides 13 grams of protein (6).

In addition, high-protein milk contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B12, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc (6).

As an added bonus the high-protein milk is lactose free, making it a great option for those who are sensitive to lactose.

Consider the following ways athletes can include high-protein milk in their snacks:

  • Enjoy a bowl of whole grain cereal with high-protein milk for a mid-morning snack.
  • Blend high-protein milk into a post-workout smoothie to boost the protein content of the drink.
  • Use high-protein milk when preparing muffins or other baked goods.
  • Add a glass of high-protein milk to your evening snack before bed.
High Protein Milk Uses

#8 Deli Meat

Deli meat can be a quick way for athletes to boost the protein content of their snack. When purchasing deli meat, I recommend athletes select lean-protein options, such as chicken, turkey, ham and roast beef.

Deli meats such as pepperoni, salami, and bologna tend to be higher in saturated fat; thus, they are less healthy choices for athletes.

I also encourage athletes to purchase deli meat that has been sliced fresh at the store, when possible.   

For a quick snack, athletes can enjoy a turkey and avocado wrap, ham and cheese with crackers, or a roast beef slider sandwich.

#9 Sliced Melon: Hydrating Snack for Athletes

Having a variety of types of sliced melon available in the refrigerator is a great way for athletes to add vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to their snacks.

In addition, melons have a high-water content. Thus, they can help support athletes with meeting their daily hydration needs.

Melons, such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon, are in-season during the summer months (7). When produce is in-season it is typically less expensive and more flavorful than out-of-season produce.

Thus, I encourage athletes to make sure to add a variety of melons to their snacks throughout the summer. Cold, sliced melon can definitely be a refreshing snack option for athletes on a hot summer day.

Food Safety Reminder: Sliced Melon

As a quick food safety reminder, once a melon is cut, the sliced melon needs to be stored in the refrigerator.

When sliced melon is held at room temperature (or hotter) there is an increased potential for bacterial growth, which could result in a foodborne illness if consumed (8).  

Thus, if sliced melon is left at room-temperature for over 2 hours it should be thrown away. This time frame decreases to 1 hour if the temperature exceeds 90°F (8).

As a general rule, when in doubt…throw it out! You do not want to take the risk of getting a foodborne illness.

Food Safety Store Sliced Melon in Refrigerator

#10 Apple Slices

Apples are a healthy fruit option for athletes, containing dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (9).

Similar to melon, once an apple is sliced, it needs to be stored in the refrigerator. For added convenience, you can also purchase washed and pre-cut containers of apple slices at the store.

Keeping apple slices available in the refrigerator can be a quick solution for a healthy snack.  Apple slices with nut butter is a healthy snack that I frequently recommend to athletes.

#11 Hummus

Hummus is a nutritious, snack item that is made with chickpeas. It contains carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals (10).

Athletes can enjoy hummus as a dip with pretzels, pita chips, or fresh vegetables. Hummus can also be added as a healthy spread on a sandwich or wrap.

Typically, hummus is sold in the refrigerated section of the grocery store and needs to be stored cold. If you purchase a shelf-stable hummus, keep in mind that once the hummus container is opened, any leftover hummus needs to be stored in the refrigerator.

#12 Guacamole

Guacamole, made with avocados, is a nutrient-dense way to add healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to an athlete’s snack (11).

If an athlete prepares their own guacamole from fresh avocados, it should be stored in the refrigerator after preparation. Adding lemon or lime juice (or other citrus juices) to the guacamole will not only add flavor, but can help prevent the guacamole from browning.

For a healthy twist on traditional guacamole, check out this Fruity Guacamole Recipe from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Dietitian’s Pick: Guacamole

If you don’t want to make your own guacamole, check out the pre-made guacamole and smashed avocado varieties available from the WHOLLY® Brand.

WHOLLY® Guacamole is prepared with Hass avocados and a blend of spices. Their mini 2-oz guacamole cups can be a convenient, nutritious addition to an athlete’s snack.

Guacamole Refrigerated Snack Option for Athletes

Refrigerated Snacks to Meal Prep in Advance

In addition to the items listed above, there are a variety of refrigerated snacks athletes can meal prep in advance to enjoy throughout the week.

#13 Overnight Oats

Overnight oats can be a healthy, carbohydrate-rich snack option for athletes. Athletes can add a wide variety of ingredients to their overnight oats, including fruit, nuts, seeds, and spices.

To boost the protein content of overnight oats athletes can stir in ingredients such as:

  • Greek yogurt
  • High-protein milk
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Seeds and seed butters

A benefit of overnight oats is that the recipe is extremely versatile. By changing up the type of ingredients used, athletes can enjoy a new variety each day.

Proats: Protein-Rich Refrigerated Snack

In addition to the ingredients listed above, protein powder can be used to make protein overnight oats (commonly referred to as Proats).

If you are interested in trying proats, check out these proats recipes shared by Kathryn Piper, Registered Dietitian.

Selecting a Protein Powder

Prior to making proats, I recommend athletes review my blog on how to select the best protein powder.  It is important for athletes to understand that sport supplements (including protein powders) are not regulated by the FDA in the same way that food is.

Thus, supplements may contain banned ingredients that could be harmful to an athlete’s health or make the athlete ineligible for competition (12). For this reason, athletes need to use caution and be informed when using any type of sport supplement.

If in doubt, consult with a sports dietitian nutritionist for athletes. The sports dietitian nutritionist can help review the supplement you are considering and provide recommendations on the safety and efficacy of the product.

Overnight Oats Meal Prep Refrigerated Snack

#14 Chia Seed Pudding

Another healthy, refrigerated snack that athletes can prepare in advance is chia seed pudding.

Chia seeds are nutrient-dense seeds that provide fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals (13).

Chia seeds have the ability to absorb water, thus they are the ideal ingredient for creating a thick pudding.

If you have never made chia seed pudding before, try out this Chia Seed Protein Pudding, from Bob’s Red Mill®.

#15 Oatmeal Protein Balls

Finally, no-bake, oatmeal protein bites can be a tasty, refrigerated snack option for athletes.

Oatmeal protein balls are made with a few simple ingredients, such as: oatmeal, nut butter, protein powder, and honey. They are simple to prepare in advance and can be enjoyed as part of a healthy snack throughout the week.

Check out the Oatmeal Protein Bites recipe Kiran Campbell, Registered Dietitian, shares on her website. Similar to overnight oats, the recipe is versatile, allowing for different add-in ingredients each time you make it.

15 Best Refrigerated Snacks for Athletes

You are now set with 15 refrigerated snacks that athletes can add to their meal plans. I encourage athletes to keep a variety of these snacks on hand to support their sports nutrition needs.

For additional sports nutrition tips, check out my blog on healthy fast-food choices for athletes.

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About the Author

Mandy Tyler 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. 

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