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The Best Gas Station Running Snacks

In a pinch, these on-the-go eats are nutritious fuel.

Photo: Getty Images/Mint Images RF

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Imagine this scenario: You’re running a race out of state and are two hours into your road trip when lunch time hits. You meant to pack a lunch box of snacks before you left this morning, but you were too busy running around getting your hydration gear, sunglasses, shoes, sweat-resistant socks, patella band, and everything else, so you forgot. The next exit off the highway advertises a gas station, so you reluctantly pull off and get ready to decide between a mushy banana or trail mix that’s 90% chocolate, 10% sugar-coated peanuts. 

Gas stations can seem like an endless pit of overly salty, sugary processed snacks that probably aren’t part of your training nutrition plan. But there are actually plenty of options that won’t leave you feeling sluggish or with a stomach ache – if you know what to look for. 

Oh Snap! Dilly Bites

Calories: 15

Carbs: 2g

Sodium: 660mg

Research suggests that pickles are good for endurance athletes for a surprising reason. In general, the high amount of sodium in pickles is frowned upon by nutritionists, but sometimes it’s exactly what runners need to restore all the electrolytes lost in a training session. Pickles are always wedged into gas station aisles. Oh Snap! Dilly Bites are perfect because they come in a portable bag, are sliced into easy bite-sized pieces, and have a good balance of sodium. You may think 660mg is a lot, but it’s not much compared to the popular brand of Van Holten’s (which contains 1,080mg). 



Calories: 130 

Carbs: 19g

Protein: 4g

Fat: 4.5g

Sodium: 210mg

If you’re a fan of Cheetos but can’t stand the orange powder staining your fingers (and the sluggish feeling you get after eating them) then Hippeas should be your gas station snack of choice. Because these crunchy puffs are made with chickpea flour, they’re gluten-free, peanut-free, and tree nut-free. Hippeas contain a decent amount of easily-digestible carbs and they’re not packed with dehydrating sodium. 


Fatty Meat Stick

Calories: 200

Fat: 15g

Carbs: 2g

Protein 13g

Sodium: 740mg

If you’re not a bar fan, it can be difficult to find a gas station snack with a good amount of protein. While meat sticks can be a little daunting, these Fatty Meat Sticks (don’t judge the name) are made with pork raised without antibiotics, grass-fed beef, cane sugar, and cultured celery juice powder. 


Pretzel Crisps and Hard Boiled Eggs


Pretzel Crisps

Calories: 110

Carbs: 24g

Protein: 2g

Sodium: 270mg


Boiled Eggs

Calories: 60

Protein: 6g

Fat: 4g

Sodium: 60mg

These two snacks are a match made in runner’s heaven. Pretzel Crisps – which are lower in calories, sodium, and fat compared to their regular counterparts – offer crunch and digestible carbs while pre-boiled eggs contain a balance of fat and protein. One study conducted by the American Journal of Physiology reports that eating protein and carbohydrates improves protein balance (the equilibrium between protein intake and anabolism) in endurance athletes. Thus, this combination is a two thumbs up.

While you might be hesitant to try gas station hard boiled eggs, you shouldn’t fear. Tip: Circle K hard boiled eggs are known to be the best of the best. 


Pistachios and Sargento String Cheese 



Calories: 150

Carbs: 8g

Protein: 6g

Fat: 13g

Sodium: 135mg


Sargento String Cheese

Calories: 90 

Carbs: 1g

Protein: 7g

Fat: 6g

Sodium: 190mg

This is another prime food combination that melds protein, fats, and carbs. Pistachios are one of the rare plant-based complete protein sources, touting all the essential amino acids to make them a powerhouse nut. They’re also high in fiber, which the Sargento String Cheese lacks. Speaking of, string cheese contains 20% of the recommended dietary allowance for calcium and 14% of selenium. Not to mention it has a balance of fat, protein, and carbs. 

Regardless of what you pick, it’s always better to fuel rather than go hungry. Don’t stress too much when browsing the gas station aisles, and try to stick to flavors and foods that you’re familiar with so you won’t experience any unexpected gastrointestinal distress.

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