Ever roamed the aisles of a drug store looking for a protein bar that’s satisfying, will fuel you up for a workout, or help you recover from one you just finished—and isn’t full of mystery ingredients? That’s a scavenger hunt most of us have been on. The end result usually isn’t pretty.
So what do the trainers who are busy teaching all day do in a pinch? Surely they have some tricks up their sweat-wicking sleeves, right? Luckily, the answer is yes.
Here, they reveal the on-the-go snacks they pack in their gym bags to fuel up between classes. And there’s not a subpar nutrition bar in the bunch.
Keep reading to see the snacks in-demand instructors keep in their gym bags.
1. Oliver Lee, trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp
Lee doesn’t rely on anything store bought—he’s perfected a fuel-packed recipe. “I make my own chocolate coconut energy balls to keep on hand when I need a boost,” he says. “They satisfy my sweet tooth and are great for pre- or post-workout. They contain simple, clean ingredients and just taste so good.”
Fortunately, he’s willing to reveal his recipe: 1/2 cup oats, two scoops of Sun Warrior Vegan Chocolate Protein Powder, one mashed banana, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and 1/4 cup acai honey. To make ’em, all you do is mix the ingredients in a bowl, roll the balls in sweetened coconut and chia seeds. Done and done.
2. Brynn Putnam, founder of Refine Method
Putnam is totally on board with the classic nuts-as-fuel mindset—but she prefers having them smooth, paired with fruit. “Nut butter and banana has been one of my favorite snacks since childhood,” she says. “Pre-portioned packets are a great way to make this snack portable and also help avoid what Lauren Slayton, the awesome RD at Foodtrainers, calls ‘over-nutting.'”
3. Joanna Cohen, instructor at Y7 Studio
Trying to downward dog on a full belly isn’t fun. Luckily Cohen found the perfect way to give her staying power without any extra weight: “I need enough energy to teach and take classes all day long, but if I’m too full it slows me down. Fruit, nuts, and kombucha really help me strike this balance,” she says. Keeping your gut healthy in addition to toning? Now that’s a total body plan.
There’s a reason why the classic banana-and-nuts snack is so popular: it works. But Rilinger forgoes the classic handful of almonds for something a bit more unexpected. “I like to stick with foods that are natural, which a lot of snack bars aren’t,” she says. “My go-to is banana and hazelnuts. I like hazelnuts because I won’t go ‘nuts’ on them—get it?!” OD-ing on nuts is definitely a thing.
Niren has perfected a snack trifecta for keeping her going: “In my backpack, I always keep three staples to power through long days of teaching and training: Muscle Elements The Truth Chocolate Bar protein powder (for a quick on-the-go shake), a banana, and Irving Farm gluten-free granola,” she says. “Before or between teaching and training, I typically eat my banana and a handful of granola. Bananas are the perfect source of carbs to get you through any high-intensity workout. And granola is an excellent source of carbs and protein.”
After a workout is when she usually mixes up her protein shake. “My objective is to reload my depleted muscles, so having protein powder with me to mix in with water, almond milk, or occasionally iced coffee is key,” she says. “A shake is fast-absorbing into the bloodstream and provides carbs that are easily digestible to fill up.”
6. Cody Rigby, Peloton instructor
Rigby keeps it classic when it comes to stocking his gym bag with snacks. His go-to: almonds. “They’re calorie-dense, making it a quick and easy way to fuel up before a ride,” he says. Sometimes, simple really is best.
7. Nikki Warren, co-founder of Kaia FIT
“I keep an avocado and a small plastic knife with me in my bag all the time, if I can,” Warren says. “It’s easy to peel and quickly eat to re-energize myself for a quick pick-me-up!” Who needs toast?
8. Amanda Butler, instructor at The Fhitting Room
Butler relies on a homemade snack bar with a flavor profile as intense as the classes she teaches. “I keep oatmeal energy balls in my bag at all times for a quick pick-me-up snack,” she says. “The oatmeal, natural peanut butter, and chia seeds in these bad boys help keep me energized and able to tackle that next class.”
Want the recipe? In a bowl, combine one cup dry old fashioned oats, 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips, 1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter (Butler loves the chunky kind), a dash of cinnamon, and a sprinkle of chia seeds. Drizzle a tablespoon of honey on top of the mixture and combine until all the ingredients are mixed thoroughly. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Then, roll the mixture into inch-wide balls. That’s it! No baking time necessary. Superfood power doesn’t have to be complicated.
9. Jenn Seracuse, instructor at Flex Studios
Just like Refine Method’s Putnam, Seracuse is a big fan of Justin’s almond butter single packets. “It’s the perfect on-the-go or between-teaching snack,” she says, adding that it’s also her pre-run fuel. “I can’t eat a lot before I run, so the protein-filled almond butter gives me the energy I need, without upsetting my stomach. If I’m in between classes, I will usually pair my Justin’s with a green apple. You know what they say, an apple a day….”
Temperatures may be dropping, but your workout routine is heating up! Check out our Fall Fitness Preview, your guide to having your healthiest fall yet. And make sure to mark your calendars: Well+Good’s annual Fitness Biathlon in NYC is back this October 22.