As a runner, or any endurance athlete for that matter, it’s hard to nail down your fueling strategy. Performance nutrition is a tricky science and clever marketing can convolute issues even farther. Healthy pre and post run snacks are an essential part of any training plan and sometimes you don’t want something out of a wrapper. Sometimes, you just want a good homemade snack to help your performance along the way and that’s when this recipe for Easy Protein Energy Balls comes in very handy!
What is a Protein Energy Ball?
A collection of dense, healthy foods all mushed together then rolled up into little balls, often rolled in something and refrigerated or frozen, not baked. They are awesome because they are incredibly easy to customize to your flavor pallet and nutrition priorities. They take about 15 min to put together and you have grab and go “healthy” snacks on hand all week. They are family and kid friendly and work great for pre and post fueling options.
Last week I got a recipe from my friend Keri over at FitBakes and I was immediately inspired to whip up a batch of energy bites myself as this Venture marathon training is in serious grind mode for the next 4 weeks. I didn’t have all of her goods on hand, so I took some creative liberty and played pantry chef and came up with my own incredibly simple recipe. I’m sure hers are delicious, but I almost like my energy balls more because…
They aren’t “that good.” Ha!
That sounds ridiculous right? Why would I recommend a recipe that isn’t out of this world amazing and delicious? Because these little guys are called “energy balls” for a reason! They are very nutritionally dense. Yes, all healthy ingredients, but loaded with fat and calories none-the-less and too much of anything is not a good thing. If mine tasted like mini-cake-pops, I’d woof the whole batch down in a few days and not come out ahead.
Now trust me, these are still very tasty
And they are lower on the calorie scale when it comes to energy bites because I skipped the added sugar, nuts, chocolate and dried fruit that you’ll find in a lot of recipes out there. These will fuel your runs well and help you recover. They are also great to tie you over in-between meals. This recipe made about 30 balls and when covered in Tupperware in the fridge can easily last a week before they dry out too much. And these are tasty enough that they will be gone in a week, just not a few days. ha ha
Eat. Drink & be Skinny’s Easy Protein Energy Ball Recipe
- 1/2 cup Vanilla Protein Powder
- 1/4 cup Chia Seeds
- 1 cup Water
- 2 cups Raw Oats
- 2 T ground Flax
- 2 T Raw Cocoa Powder
- 1/2 cup Peanut Butter
Easy Protein Energy Ball Directions:
- Add the first three ingredients together in a small bowl, stir together and let sit for 15-30 min to let the chia seeds “gel.”
- Add remaining ingredients (except the coconut flakes) to a large bowl and top with chia mixture.
- Mix together with a wooden spoon or your hands until well combined.
- Roll into 1″ balls using your hands, this gets a little messy, but it works. You may need to wash your hands several times thought the process.
- Add coconut flakes to a small dish and roll each ball around until well covered.
- Lay out on parchment paper in rows and refrigerate until ready to eat.
- After a few hours, you can take them out and put them in covered Tupperware to keep them from getting too dry.
Easy Protein Energy Ball Nutrition (per ball): 66 calories, 3.5 g fat, .6g sugar, 1.5 g fiber, 3.6 g protein.
Additional, Optional Protein Energy Ball Ingredients
Now if you’re looking to ramp up “energy” and by that I mean calories, here are the best ways to do it. Not only will these add extra energy, there are additional flavor, texture, micro, macronutrient and potent phytochemical benefits to these extra mix-ins. And you get what you pay for here, yes, they will be more energy dense, but then by nature should also be more filling and give you more energy to burn. You just need to remember to burn it.
- Dried fruit such as apricots, cranberries, raisins, blueberries, gogi berries, dates, and figs.
- Chopped nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and cashews.
- Seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, and maybe even poppy? With a little lemon?
- Honey or agave for added sweetness.
- Almond milk (instead of water) for added calcium.
- Finely ground espresso beans or high quality instant coffee for flavor.
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What’s your favorite go-to pre or post fueling snack?