Looking for the perfect homemade energy balls for runners? These oatmeal energy balls are my favorite pre-run snack and also make for a great afternoon snack to help keep you full until dinner!
My favorite pre-run snack of all time are the homemade energy balls in this post. My mom started making these years ago after adapting a recipe she got in a Runner’s World magazine. And it’s kind of silly that I have a bunch of other energy ball recipes on the blog (like these S’more Coffee energy balls, these Tahini energy balls and these sweet & salty protein bites) but I’ve never shared the recipe for the ones I make most often. So, I’m finally sharing that recipe today!
These oatmeal energy balls are filled with healthy, easily digestible carbs to fuel your workout. They have a little fat, fiber and protein to help keep you full and satisfy you (all of those are important elements to satiation). And they are just plain delicious. I eat 1-3 of these every single day, no joke, and I’m still not tired of them. I eat 1-2 before a workout, 1 in the afternoon and oftentimes 1-2 before bed. (Hey, this is pregnancy life!)
They’re no-bake so you can eat them as soon as they’re made and they freeze beautifully. While these are perfect homemade energy balls for runners, they work well for pre-workout fuel no matter how you sweat. I eat them before I ride the Peloton, before strength training, before yoga, everything!
Homemade Energy Balls for Runners
Old Fashioned Oats are a great source of healthy carbs to help fuel your workout. They also contain gut-healthy fiber.
Chopped Nuts are a great source of healthy fats and help provide a satisfying crunch!
Raw Sunflower Seeds are high in vitamin E and promote a healthy nervous system.
Unsweetened Finely Shredded Coconut is high in manganese, which is great for bone health.
Cacao Nibs are a great addition in this recipe. I love the dark chocolate kick that isn’t too sweet.
Peanut Butter helps hold these together and tastes amazing. I use an all-natural peanut butter that is salted but has no added oil or sugar. My favorite is the Kirkland Signature peanut butter from Costco or the non-organic peanut butter from Whole Foods. (The organic one doesn’t taste as good!)
Honey is the natural sweetener in this recipe and provides a quick hit of energy and carbs to fuel your run. I always try to use local honey.
Vanilla Extract adds flavor without more added sugar.
Combine the oats, mixed nuts, sunflower seeds, cacao nibs and shredded coconut in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, microwave the peanut butter and honey together for 60 seconds. Add vanilla and mix so everything is well incorporated.
Add the peanut butter & honey mixture to dry ingredients and mix. It takes a few minutes and stirring to get it to fully combine. Make sure you get all the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl mixed in!
Wet hands a little and roll dough into 1” balls. Re-wet hands as needed as you continue to form balls. (Wet hands helps prevent the dough from sticking to your hands like crazy.) Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. (You can place them close together because you are not baking them.) This recipe makes about 60 energy balls.
Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for a couple of hours and then transfer the energy balls into a ziplock bag. When you want to eat one (or three), microwave for about 10 seconds to thaw. Or just leave them on the counter for a few minutes — they thaw quickly. And sometimes I just bite right into them right from the freezer, but that’s probably not the safest option for my teeth. 😉
Mixed Nuts: You can use your favorite mix of nuts in this recipe to suit your preferences. I typically go for almonds, walnuts and pecans. Both Costco and Trader Joe’s sell mixed nuts I like. I prefer salted nuts since I always crave salt. (And salt is necessary for super sweaty summer running!)
Maple syrup: This doesn’t work perfectly as a substitution since it’s thinner than honey. If you do use maple syrup, you’ll likely need to add more oats.
Chocolate Chips: You can use mini chocolate chips in place of cacao nibs. But using cocoa nibs helps prevent a melty chocolate mess, which is great if you take these in your purse or when traveling. I also find that the chocolate chips melt a little when I add the warmed honey and peanut butter mixture.
Almond Butter: You can sub almond butter in these, but I much prefer peanut butter! Just make sure your almond butter isn’t too runny since the peanut butter helps bind them. If your almond butter is runny, use a little less or add more oats.
Reduced sugar: I’ve tried cutting back on the honey and honestly, they don’t taste as good or hold together as well.
2 cups old fashioned oats, uncooked (not instant!)
1 cup mixed chopped nuts
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut
½ cup cacao nibs
1.5 cups peanut butter
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the oats, mixed nuts, sunflower seeds, cacao nibs and coconut in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, microwave peanut butter and honey together for 60 seconds.Add vanilla and mix so everything is well incorporated.
Add the peanut butter & honey mixture to dry ingredients and mix.It takes a few minutes and stirring to get it to mix without any dry ingredients left.
Wet hands a little and roll dough into 1” balls.Place on a parchment or wax paper covered cookie sheet.(You can place them close together because you are not baking them!) Place in the freezer for a couple of hours and then put into a ziplock bag.
When you want to eat one, microwave them for about 10 seconds to thaw or leave them on the counter for a few minutes and they thaw quickly.
I like one before a workout and one after. You can also keep them in the fridge if you think you’ll go through them quickly!
Nuts: I use the salted mixed nuts from Trader Joe’s or Costco since I love the saltiness, but if I don’t have those, I just use a mixture of nuts that I have around, usually ½ cup almonds, ¼ cup walnuts, ¼ cashews or pecans
Peanut Butter: I use the Kirkland Signature creamy peanut butter or Whole Foods non-organic creamy or crunchy. Any peanut butter will do but you may need to add a little extra honey if your PB is too dry or add more oats if your PB is too runny so the dough will hold together.Avoid one with added sugar.
Cacao Nibs: You can find these at Trader Joe’s. They’re not sweet, but add a great chocolate flavor and crunch. You can use mini chocolate chips but often they melt into the mixture.
Nutrition stats are approximates and will vary depending on the exact ingredients and brands of ingredients you use.
Serving Size:1 ball
Ready to run?
Let me help! I’ve been running for almost 20 years, and have run over 50 races from 5Ks to marathons.
I’ve learned a lot along the way and would love to help you too!
Join my FREE mini Running Bootcamp and I’ll send you advice to help you get started! I’ll share my favorite running shoes, advice on what to eat before a run, tips to run faster and more!
Great success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription.