The Evolution of Snacking in Sports: How Snacking Has Changed and Why YOU Should Re-think your snacks

April 12, 2016

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What words/foods immediately come to mind when you hear, (or read), the word snacking?I don’t know about you, but my answer to that question has most certainly changed over the years.  I have been an active “athlete” for as long as I can remember, a runner since 7th grade, and a Registered Dietitian for 16 years (yikes!). As a child athlete, I went through phases as a swimmer, soccer player, basketball player (short lived), and ballerina, (even shorter lived!!), and regardless of which sport I was involved in, I was ALWAYS hungry and asking for snacks! At that time, while I generally ate balanced meals, snacks were mainly cookies, (thankfully with milk), ice cream, crackers etc…

By the time I was in High School and running competitively, I began “fueling” for my sport. I started choosing bananas over cookies before runs, granola bars between events at meets, and PB&J sandwiches post competition, and felt much better for doing so. As a collegiate runner, I experimented on myself to see what tasted good AND also fueled me well. The first energy bars had been out for a few years, and we ate lots of them! It was better than eating cookies…right? Sometimes…but not completely. Many of them were highly processed, with hard to pronounce ingredients and not a real food to be seen once you opened the package.

As I delved deeper into my training to become a Registered Dietitian in grad school, my search for the “science behind snacking” really began. I started paying more attention to the ingredient lists in many of the granola and energy bars we were all eating, and turned to making big batches of oat bars and granola for myself and my teammates. They were fun to make and we felt good both because we were well-fueled and feeling good ABOUT eating real foods.

EBB3BFA7-646F-44F5-80DB-A8B468180407Now as a mother of three young active kids, and a Sports Dietitian who works with thousands of athletes each year, I spend a great deal of time thinking about and speaking about snacks. To me, the perfect snacks are delicious, easy to eat on the go, (let’s face it, we are all BUSY!), and made with REAL ingredients I can feel good about feeding myself, my kids and my clients. When the original PROBAR meal bars came out over 10 years ago, I was thrilled. My husband and I finally had a great snack or mini-meal option for longer on-the-go trips, bike rides and weeks/times when I could no longer find the time to make bars and granola myself. As we began having, and then traveling with our children, I felt even better knowing that I could share the PROBAR with them, and still feel good about it. Ten years later, my entire family loves the PROBAR line. Our current favorite is the PROBAR Bite bar. We can each select our own flavor and know that whichever we each choose (I LOVE the peanut butter crunch, my husband’s fav is the choc cherry cashew, and our son loves the PB chocolate), they each contain only ingredients we can feel good about. Nothing artificial. And although luckily we do not have any food allergies in our family, many of our friends do-but we can safely share our PROBAR bite bars with almost anyone, as they are gluten free, dairy free, soy free and organic. I LOVE that they have a balanced macronutrient profile as well;  6 grams of protein-as much as an ounce of cheese- keep us all full after we eat them, 7-8 grams of good, healthy fats (from nuts, seeds and nut butters), which fuel our bodies and also keep us satisfied, and 28 grams of carbs (mainly from oats, agave, molasses and the like) to keep us energized for all of life’s adventures.

There has never been a more important time in food history for us to remember that we really “Are What We Eat”. I choose to eat delicious foods that keep my energy stable and myself and my family healthy. As such I no longer view cookies, crackers and ice cream as daily snacks. They are treats to be enjoyed and included on occasion..but for daily snacks I choose foods with real, wholesome ingredients; foods I can feel good about.

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-Lauren Antonucci

Registered Sports Dietitian and PROBAR Ambassador