The snacks to pack for instant energy on the go

Walk past the convenient options and snack on nutritious, sustaining choices that won’t leave you feeling sluggish.

By Louise Wedgwood, August 21 2019

Business travel is a demanding business and it’s easy enough to skip meals and find yourself needing a quick top-up.

Oh-so-handy snacks are everywhere – crisps from the vending machine at the airport, chocolate from the minibar, energy drinks from the service station, a cheeky stop along the way at a convenient fast food outlet. The snacks that are the easiest to buy are often the hardest on your body, leaving you feeling sluggish.

However, holding out until the next square meal is not an option. Unless you’ve got a repertoire of jokes about loud tummy grumbles to use at your next meeting.

The ideal snack to take on the road? One that provides slow-burning energy and high nutrient density, to help body and brain function at their best. Armed with a few nutritious (and portable) snacks, junk food vs starvation is a dilemma you need not face next time you travel.

Savoury snacks

Beef jerky: As well as providing you with a high-quality type of protein your body finds easiest to use, jerky gives you iron and zinc – iron to avoid excess fatigue, and zinc to support your immune function. You can buy it in supermarkets or at airport duty-free stores, or make your own in the oven.

Beef jerky provides you with a high-quality type of protein your body finds easiest to use.

Pumpkin seeds: You might already know that seeds provide vital fibre, protein and nutritious fats. What you might not realise is the value of the minerals pumpkin seeds provide, such as manganese, phosphorous, copper and magnesium. For example, the health of your bones, skin, blood sugar, and red blood cells depends on these minerals. For extra flavour, take two minutes to toast seeds in the frypan at home with some Chinese five-spice.

Pumpkin seeds are packed with vital fibre, protein and nutritious fats.

Fruity fuel

Apple slices and peanut butter: Technically made from legumes, not nuts, natural peanut butter contains about 30 per cent protein. And another 40 per cent is made up of healthy monounsaturated fats, the type emphasised in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Bring a small container of peanut butter from home (or snaffle it from the breakfast buffet) and grab an apple from any supermarket or corner store for a tasty and healthy dipping combo.

Pick up a pre-prepared fruit salad from cafés, juice bars, supermarkets and even service stations.

Fruit salad: Even better than eating an apple a day, is eating a rainbow every day. Different coloured fruits contain different antioxidants and other nutrients, and scoring a variety of fruits ensures we don’t miss any. We need antioxidants to scavenge and neutralise free radicals. These are the unstable chemicals in our body linked to a host of diseases, including heart disease and cancers. You can grab a fruit salad from cafés, juice bars, supermarkets and even service stations.

Sweet treats

Nut-based muesli bars: The ‘good’ bugs living in your gut, increasingly implicated in all aspects of health, thrive on the high fibre content that nuts deliver. Plus, several studies show an association between regular consumption of nuts and cognitive performance. For a healthy body and brain, walk past the chocolate bars at the airport newsagent and look for a honey-covered macadamia or almond bar.

Nut-based muesli bars are a more nutritious option than a chocolate bar.

Protein or 'bliss' balls: Merging the nutritional powerhouses of nuts, dried fruit and whole grains such as oats, protein balls ans the popular Bliss Balls are the epitome of a nutrient-dense snack. They’re easy to carry and readily available at many cafés and corner stores. You can also get organised and make a more nutritious batch at home. For example, mix quick oats, peanut butter and chocolate chips in a bowl; or blend dates, coconut, almonds and vanilla in a food processor, then roll into balls.

Energy-packed protein or 'bliss balls' are easy to carry and readily available at cafes and corner stores.

Something to drink

Water: Boring but true – water is the best drink. Keep a reusable water bottle topped up from safe sources to save buying plastic bottles.

Boring but true: water remains your best drinking option (and if you're thirsty, you are already dehydrated).

Tea: Also recommended by dietitians, due to its high antioxidant content. Keep a selection of quality black and herbal teabags in your luggage for a healthy boost wherever you have a kettle.

Avoid: To keep your energy levels on an even keel, you can leave the sports drinks, soft drinks, milk drinks and iced teas where you found them. Even juice is not as healthy as it seems. If you’ve ever made fresh juice yourself, you’ll realise that it takes a lot of fruit to make one glass of juice. Would you really eat eight oranges in one go? Better to eat a whole orange and drink a glass of water.

Firing on all cylinders is much easier with quality fuel in the tank. Make strategic snacking part of your travel plans, and your well-fuelled body will thank you.

Louise Wedgwood
Louise Wedgwood

Louise Wedgwood

Louise Wedgwood is a Brisbane-based 'science-savvy' health and lifestyle writer.



20 Oct 2015

Total posts 10

Beef jerky is very easy to make at home, where you can also be sure that you know exactly what ingredients are used. I cook it up in my oven and make 'snack packs' to have at work and also when I fly. You can control the amount of salt used and also use a simple soy marinade to create teriyaki beef jerky. There are stacks of recipes online.



11 Sep 2015

Total posts 2

I really stepped up the home cooking as part of adopting a more fitness-oriented lifestyle. I do a lot of meal prep, there's a great Reddit community for that actually, but that in turn got me into preparing my own protein bars and protein balls. It's actually very easy as long as you are not a total novice, and even if you are a novice just follow the recipe! When I hit the road I always pack a bag of my protein bars and snack on these between meals, a few of those with a bottle of water and I am set!



20 Jan 2017

Total posts 29

The best tip I got was from a former colleague who was out on the road quite often.

He's a relatively healthy bloke but he would often find himself reaching for a Mars bar and Coke to pep him up.

He swapped it out for a handful of almonds and a bottle of water and he said the sustained energy levels from that type of food was amazing.

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