Like it or not, I eat some kind of protein/fruit/granola/something bar about once a day. They are quick and convenient and for the most part, better than eating a candy bar when I'm in a hurry. And just like everything else in my nutrition life, there has been an evolution. I used to only eat Kashi bars, especially the chocolate ones. Then I started looking at nutrition facts. YIKES. So now I have a big pile of different brands/flavors that I rotate through, and they all serve different purposes (for example, this box was on sale at Costco). I thought it might be marginally interesting to talk about it (it's February and I'm not racing, cut me some slack, there isn't a lot else going on).
The Clif bar, for a long time, was my wake-up-and-go-exercise bar. No matter what I was doing, it would go in the mouth and I'd be out the door. My favorite flavor was Cool Mint Chocolate, but then I discovered it had caffeine in it so I switched to Crunchy Peanut Butter. But then I discovered that these suckers have a lot of carbohydrates in them, mostly from sugar. So now I only grab a box of these if they are really on sale, and then I save them for pre-longer/tougher workouts. They are also good if it's two hours until dinner and I'm trying not to graze on everything in the pantry.
The Luna bar was my original bar love. Chocolate Raspberry and Lemon Crisp are my two favorites, and they also were a wake-up-and-go bar for me. I also spend most of my first year as a cyclist eating them on the ride. But the Clif bars are a little more filling and have a tiny bit more protein in them, so I eventually stopped buying these.
Luna Protein Bar
When I first tried this bar, I thought it was gross. I think I tried the Cookie Dough flavor, and it was thick and tasteless. So I avoided these for a while, but then the Mint Chocolate Chip came out and I gave it another try. Oh, this is a great bar (note: I'm fairly sure they changed the recipe). A solid amount of protein, not a TON of sugar, and keeps me feeling full through longer workouts. The only problem I have with it is that it has a lot of fiber in it, which makes it a definite no-no before high-intensity workouts. It also doesn't have any ingredients with the word "syrup" in there anywhere, which is something I look for in a bar. I had one of these this morning before an hour run and wasn't hungry when I arrived back home.
I bought a box of these at Trader Joe's one week out of idle curiosity, mainly because the "Peanut Butter Pretzel" flavor sounded amazing. I found that, for whatever reason, they didn't fill me up at all and I'd be hungry again 30 minutes later. We buy them occasionally when they are on sale at Costco but I mostly keep them in my purse as the emergency back-up food and put them in the pile that the poet is allowed to steal from.
This one was recommended to me by my former coach as a pre-race meal. This bar looks like a weird gummy lump of ooge. It's very chewy and feels like it's probably going to pull my fillings out. I'm not a huge fan because it's obviously really processed. However, it has the right balance of carbs/protein/fat that I need pre-race and is low in fiber so I don't want to whoops in my pants after running hard. After testing it out in training and racing last fall, I pretty much reserve this one for race day because it's just weird, but it works.
These I just like because they are delicious, and my RD friend approved them to stay in my diet as they are actually made from real food. I'll eat one in the morning before a not-long workout, or between two back-to-back workouts that require driving (long run then swim, for example) or snack on one in the horrible empty time between my fifth breakfast and lunch. My favorite flavor, Cherry Pie, has three ingredients: dates, almond, cherries. It doesn't get a lot simpler than that. The Key Lime Pie flavor is pretty brilliant, I have no idea how they make those five ingredients equal tasting like pie.
I recently got some PureFit nutrition bars to try. These are advertised as all-natural, gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, vegan, kosher, high in protein and diabetic-friendly. Whew. That's a tall order. These little guys have a ton of protein in them, but also a ton of fiber. I tried the granola crunch bar first, and it left me feeling a little heavy going into my morning workout. The chocolate brownie flavor was pretty good, and much more tasty. I think I'd keep these in the rotation as a pre-long-low-intensity workout bar - the amount of fiber scares me a little bit too much to have one pre-race.
I also didn't realize until I started writing this just how much of it comes from one source: Clif. I try not to eat more than one "bar" a day in my current quest to rid my diet of highly processed food. I'm also trying to figure out what I can make at home that will do the same thing these bars do. I attempted to turn this pre-workout pumpkin bread into a muffin recipe and it was a dismal failure. I know that I can "make" my own Larabars but I feel like that defeats the purpose a bit (and I'm lazy). So, question time, blog friends. What do you eat pre-workout? Where can I get it? Do any of you make your own pre-workout foods?