I eat food. I enjoy eating food. I enjoy eating great tasting food. Therefore one of the things people often ask me about are energy bars. Do I eat them? Should they should include them in their diet? Not a weight loss diet, but simply a clean eating, healthy living way of eating. << That’s right a diet is a way of eating not just a term for lose weight.
Today’s athletes frequently use the compact and convenient form of energy bars as a way of boosting and maintaining stamina and supporting quick post-exercise recovery. One of the earliest commercial versions of an energy bar was a product called Space Food Sticks. Created in America in the 1960s, they were released during the first Apollo moon landings as “non-frozen balanced energy snack in rod form containing nutritionally balanced amounts of carbohydrate, fat and protein."
Admittedly the marketing has improved since then as climbers, athletes and others began to see the benefits of a highly concentrated food source in a small, light package format that can be easily consumed and quickly digested.
The way athletes nourish themselves has seen many changes over the years. Some athletes eat an energy bar a couple of hours before exercise starts. This helps to build up energy storage in the tissues, while ensuring that the stomach is as empty as possible before exercise begins.
With endurance sports, like marathon running or triathlons, energy bars might be eaten during the exercise itself, to maintain the sustained energy levels required. And of course others use energy bars as a post-exercise snack to replenish the energy they’ve just used up.
USE IT OR LOSE IT?
It seems that for those engaging in endurance activities energy bars are a great way to ensure they receive the proper portions of protein, carbs and fat without much thought. Bars have a variety of formulations and should be used with appropriate timing to receive the benefits…and yes with the clean eating challenge starting soon I have to say look at the ingredients!!!
Many bars are sugar packed and really just a fancier form of candy bars…others might have good nutritional stats, but an ingredient list to rival your household cleaners. If you haven’t factored in the calories or don’t need the energy boost pass up the bar for a piece of fruit. BlondePonyTail and others have also come up with a number of great make at home recipes as well.
I use Vega after my long runs now because I’m so warm I don’t get hungry for awhile, but without refueling my muscles won’t have the energy to recovery quickly enough for the next run. They are also a key tool in my arsenal for travel…so yes for me I say Use It. BUT I also say choose carefully and realize they can be very calorie dense.
What’s your take? Do you use energy bars or have other ways of refueling?
I am grateful for a doctor who sits to talk and understand everything that is going on before making any decisions or recommendations.