LA Galaxy Performance Blog presented by Herbalife

Stay Fueled 24/7 with Balanced Snacks | LA Galaxy Performance Blog presented by Herbalife


Herbalife is the sports nutrition and presenting partner for the LA Galaxy. Registered Dietitians at Herbalife work closely with the LA Galaxy technical staff to make sure we are maximizing their nutrition to support performance goals.

Importance of Balanced Snacks

Snacks can be customized according to your personal preferences and utilized to fuel performance and recovery. Ensuring a steady intake of fuel throughout the day allows you to maintain your energy levels to support and fuel whatever you have on your agenda, whether that is training, work, school, and anything in between.

Some people struggle to obtain enough calories and nutrients through their main meals alone, so snacks can be used as a fueling opportunity to help you to reach your body composition goals. If you are looking to gain muscle mass (or weight, in general), snacks are your chance to get those needed additional calories during the day. For those trying to lean out, light snacks can be used to supplement any reduced calories during meal times, allowing you to stay fueled and reduce hunger throughout your day.

What Should Your Snack Look Like?

Just like your meals, try to build your snacks according to your Performance Plate, making sure to include lean protein, fiber-rich carbs (whole grains), color (fruits and/or vegetables), healthy fats, and hydration. Shoot for 15 to 25 grams of protein and between around 250 to 500 calories per snack to start.

Snack size will vary from person to person, depending on your total activity level and personal body composition goals. For elite athletes training and playing matches up to 5 to 6 days per week for 1.5 to 2 or more hours each time, snacks can be up to 500 calories each or more. For athletes with less training commitments, snacks can have about half of that amount, around 250 calories or more. Use a combination of your hunger and fullness cues, along with any weight or body composition measurements to gauge what size snack is best for you.

Bear in mind that you should not be waiting until you are feeling pangs of hunger to have a snack. At this point, too much time has already passed without fuel. Instead, try to fuel up when you begin to feel slight hunger, or you notice other signs that you require fuel, such as reduced concentration, low energy, mood changes, or even shakiness.

In addition to your daily meals (3 main meals per day), try adding in between 2-4 snacks per day in between meals to see if this further helps boost your mental and physical performance, both on and off the field. In general, aim to eat a meal or a snack every 3 to 4 hours to ensure adequate fueling. One of these snacks can be eaten 30-60 minutes before bedtime to aid muscle repair and recovery overnight. Certain sleep snacks may even help you sleep better!

An example fueling timeline for an athlete with morning training could look like:

  • 6:30 AM - Breakfast
  • 9:00 AM - Pre-Training Nutrition (e.g. 30-60 grams quick-digesting carbs)
  • 11:00 AM - Post-Training Nutrition (i.e. Recovery Shake with both carbs and protein)
  • 12:30 PM - Lunch
  • 3:00 PM - Afternoon Snack
  • 6:30 PM - Dinner
  • 9:00 PM - Sleep Snack, about 30-60 minutes before bed

You can use the timeline above as a guideline, shifting the meal and snack times as needed either forward or backward to accommodate your unique schedule. The total amount and type of snack will depend on your hunger levels along with your school/work, training, and sleep schedules.

Balanced Snack Ideas

Some easy snack ideas may include:

  • Homemade trail mix with raw nuts and seeds, pretzels, dried fruit (e.g, raisins), dark chocolate chips
  • Loaded Greek yogurt or cottage cheese bowl topped with nuts and seeds, whole-grain granola, berries, and a drizzle of honey
  • Nut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • Beef jerky and dried mango
  • Snack box with hard boiled eggs, string cheese, sliced cucumber, and orange wedges
  • Can of tuna (packed in water) or smoked salmon with whole wheat crackers and an apple
  • Avocado toast on whole wheat bread, topped with hard boiled eggs and tomato
  • Chopped apple or banana with nut butter and side of pretzels with low-fat chocolate milk
  • Whole wheat crackers, string cheese, and baby carrots
  • Hummus with pretzels, carrots, and celery
  • Protein guacamole (just add a scoop of unflavored protein powder!) with whole grain chips and sliced bell peppers
  • Tortilla wrap with sliced turkey, cheese, greens, tomato, cucumbers, and mustard
  • Protein fruit smoothie blended using protein powder with your favorite fluid, Greek yogurt, and frozen fruit of choice
  • String cheese, a fig bar, and a pear
  • Air popped popcorn coated in nutritional yeast, tossed with dried edamame

The exact portions for each snack should be determined based on your individual goals. Be sure to include hydration with each snack! Choose water, sparkling water, sports drinks, milk, or 100% fruit juice.

Pro Tips for Snacking

Many of the snacks listed above can be made ahead, packed, and organized during a weekly meal prep or simply the day before. Having these snacks accessible makes you more likely to stick to your snack strategy instead of grabbing the first thing that looks good to you. Taking prepped snacks on-the-go with you also allows you to never miss a fueling opportunity when you become hungry or fatigued when out and about. You can also keep a few non-perishable options in your gym bag, locker, or car to ensure immediate fueling if/when needed.

Sticking to a routine can help you prevent excessive hunger throughout the day, and ensures you are fueled properly for any training, matches, or work commitments on your day’s busy to-do list. When over-hungry, one is more likely to make poor snack/meal choices, which could ultimately compromise your ability to reach your performance or body composition goals. Use the timeline above, or one that works for you, to help you schedule out and plan your meals and snacks.

In general, if you are choosing from packaged foods, be sure to peruse the Nutrition Facts label to check for the protein, carb, and fat content, along with the serving size so you know exactly how much you need based on your personal performance and body composition goals.

Aim for whole foods over highly processed, packaged snacks, when possible. Highly processed foods like fast food, junk foods, or candy, do not provide a lot of nutrients or provide sustained energy to help fuel your day. If you want to include something like this in a snack, choose a smaller portion and supplement it by adding in some lean protein and color to make it a bit more balanced.

Finally, try to make your snacks something you will look forward to. Do not try to force yourself to eat something you don’t enjoy. Just like with anything, you are more likely to maintain consistency if you prioritize your personal satisfaction while also keeping in mind your performance and body composition goals. The snack combinations are truly limitless, so try a few to see which works best for you, then schedule them into your day and week to ensure you are fueled at all times.