Tuesday, February 7, 2012

the bars, the bars

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).


Clif Bar
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.


Luna Bar
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.


Clif Mojo
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.


Powerbar Performance
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.


Larabar
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.


PureFit Bar
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?  

35 comments:

  1. Wait organic cane syrup is the first or second ingredient on the luna protein bar ingredient list, depending on the flavor. I also used to like those, especially the chocolate almond, but they have soy which I try to stay away from.

    I figured out how to copy the larabar peanut butter cookie and brownie bars. Money saver. Mad money saver. And honestly, it is NOT hard at all. I promise. It takes about 5 minutes.

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  2. I went through a date-eating phase. Was hard on the bike bc they are sorta sticky, but as a morning snack or between workout bite, they are great.

    Agreed though, homemade larabars are actually quite easy, all you need is a food processor.

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  3. Ah, I was hoping this would be a post about alcohol. But I suppose this is equally interesting :-)

    I love love love picky bars (http://www.pickybars.com/) - gluten and dairy free, 198cal, 2g fiber (though they do have brown rice syrup). If I want something more, my go-to are Stash Bars (http://katesrealfood.com/the-bars/). If you like cherries, the Handle Bar is also really good. I cut these up though and eat them slowly on the bike (they're heavy if you eat all at once) (ingredients and nutrition here: http://katesrealfood.com/the-real-ingredients/)

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  4. I love Luna Protein Bars - Cookie Dough. I'm trying to wean myself off of them, so I have been making homemade bars which I freeze. So refreshing after a workout.

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  5. First off I must tell you how B.o.B and I call the PureFit bars, dirt bars, because that's what they taste like, marginally flavored dirt. When the company contacted me to review them I had to tell them no because seriously, I can only think "dirt bars" whenever I see them. I hope I didn't just ruin them for you by telling you this. :)

    As to my own preference, when I am actually training for something longer than my current 1-2 miles, (I used to do that right?!?!) I lived for a post-workout Clif bar and the occasional Larabar. Powerbar Performance would be used if I seriously slacked on eating that day but otherwise, I group that in the dirt bar category too for it's lack of actual taste.

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  6. I eat a bar as apart of my lunch everyday and so this is something I can pretend to be an authority on.

    My absolute favorites are Raw Revolution bars and Pure Organic bars. I stock up on those brands like a crazy person when they're on sale.

    Otherwise I really like the generic sounding Organic Food Bar Raw that is dirt cheap (considering) at whole foods. Look for the generic packaging and the $1.29 price tag. They only have 3 flavors, but they're really good (Chocolatey chocolate chip is my fave).

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  7. I like the "purity" of the larabar since its basic ingredients and you can make them yourself, but I do love a clifbar on the bike because its packed full of energy and makes you feel "full"-----ish.

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  8. Other than weekend long runs, where I always eat about the same thing (toast, PB, banana) I don't do any specific fueling for weekday workouts....I'm only going like 6-8 miles. Clif bars are what might qualify as my favorite but they all have this odd fruity taste I can't quite identify. Tried the honey oat crunchy ones last week and those were better. I have not liked Lara or Luna at all and haven't tried powerbar. If I did think more about fueling on weekdays, I'd probably just have an apple.

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  9. My Tuesday evening running group starts at a different bar each week. On the rare occasion that we hash from a bar, several of us will imbibe in a BEvERage before the run. HA, I'm not a big fan of nutrition bars........

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  10. I used to get incredibly sick to my stomach on any run longer than five miles, and nothing I ate (or didn't eat) seemed to fix it. Then one day I was meeting a friend for a run and I'd woken up late and just grabbed the first thing I saw, which was homemade pumpkin chocolate chip bread. We ran for an hour and I didn't get sick. It's my miracle food. I'm afraid to know what it's like nutritionally, but whatever, I only eat it before I'm running for an hour-plus. The recipe I use is the one from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.

    Of bars, the Think Thin bars (whose name embarrasses me) sit best in my stomach before a short run or swim. When I'm doing other exercise I can eat basically anything.

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  11. this is a great review! I personally enjoy the cliff bars... those are the first ones that I was introduced to as a runner. I'm glad to see that the pure-fit bars are vegan friendly though. I'm a vegetarian and sometimes it's hard to find a bar that doesn't carry animal products. I was given some of the power bar performance (i think it was) from a half I did not long ago and still haven't gotten into them, probably because of the way they look, but I'm going to try them for my next long run. see how they work. Thanks for the review... and if you find a way to make your own bars (or something similar) can you please post a recipe? I would love to make my own as well!

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  12. I have Clif bars occasionally but not terribly often. You made me really want to try Larabars though. I've yet to try them.
    While I was marathon training, I used to have peanut butter toast before my long runs. Sometimes with banana. Nothing too fancy.

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  13. I am such a bar hoarder and whore. True story and no shame. Anyways-my favorite bars currently, are snickers marathon bars. They are so good and have a really high order of fiber and protein plus calcium (a big factor for me).

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  14. I tend to be a Clif person too, but now I want to try all these bars that people are suggesting. I feel like bars are a necessary evil for all the reasons you listed, they're quick, convenient and better than going to the vending machine for a Snickers bar (not that I ever do that...)

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  15. I was in REI last night looking at all the different bars and thought I should really try some new brands - so I picked some up. What works for me right now are Balance Bars and Luna Protein Bars. I did try a new honey stinger protein bar today before my track workout this morning and it tasted a little too honey-like to me. Ha. I had a KIND bar for a snack. That was pretty good although the Fat/Carb/Protein ratio was higher on the fat because of the nuts...great post! I am enjoying reading everyone's comments.

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    1. oh, I totally forgot about the KIND bars - they are AMAZING!!

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    2. Yes - they are pretty good. I want to try their added protein bar. I like that the poet has his own pile that he is allowed to steal from. That made me laugh. Haha.

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  16. I used to be a pretty big bar user, but over the last couple of years have trended more towards real foods. That said, if I have a run of 10-plus miles or long bike ride, I will toast a whole-grain waffle and put PB on it. I eat about 3/4 of it. I do miss the convenience of bars, though!

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  17. i see that Morgan has filled you in on "dirt bars." lol! when our friend recommended them i didn't realize they had so much fiber and couldn't understand why a runner would eat them. i soon discovered that he needed the fiber when i saw a huge tub of metamucil on his kitchen counter. i, on the other hand, need ZERO additional fiber in my diet b/c i am a poop factory. (true story)

    the clif mojo is exactly what i felt about it too. tasty yet not filling. i like the "kind" bars they sell at starbucks and you can get them at target or in the organic section at grocery stores. tasty and more filling but not like a cliff bar filling. also the protein crunch bars are like those delish sugar wafter cookies but better for you!

    i apparently have a lot to say on this bar post. lol!

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  18. I don't think its a secret to which bars I am a fan of :)

    I eat Clif bars before workouts and have been eating Builders bars after long runs as a quick way to get some protein in my muscles on the drive home. Luna and Mojo (especially dipped Mojo!) are my go to snacks as well as Z bars. Have you tried those? They are the kids ones so smaller/less calories but taste like a cookie <3 I eat them before shorter runs when I don't need a whole Clif bar.

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  19. I don't do bars. I tend more towards PB&J sandwiches or a handful of almonds as my go to in a rush food. And I'm not going to admit how fast I go through a bag of dates from costco.

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  20. RD-friend approved, indeed! Many of the rest of those, are not. But you know this... :)

    "I try not to eat more than one "bar" a day" - keep it up! Stay Strong! Seriously though, you absorb the nutrients from real food so much more efficiently...and, you know, it's REAL food. So, there's that.

    My pre-workout go-tos: Banana + peanut butter (I KNOW, but it's easy and I think the combo is deeelicious), bread + banana slices n' honey, Larabar (on rare occassion), or bread + whatever organic jam/jelly D bought that week.

    The Key? Carbs ("sugar", but the right kind). You don't need a lot of protein (or any, depending on the intensity) before a workout.

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  21. Clif bars (crunchy PB) are my go-to before a workout that's shorter than 14-15 miles. I can grab it on my way out the door and it's perfect. For longer than that distance, or really any race 10K or longer, I have to do the 2 hours in advance oatmeal and peanut butter.

    Josef told me that the regular Luna Bars aren't good because of the kind of and amount of sugar.

    I heart Lara bars as an afternoon snack and I like the Clif builder bar as a post-workout snack or when I'm feeling low-energy.

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  22. I'm slowly weaning myself of my cliff builders bar as a mid morning snack addiction. It is just the perfect easy filling snack!

    Let's see, I have run after Thai food, half a loaf of banana bread, bowls of cereal, Burritos..... Maybe I'm not the best example of what people should eat. It works!

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  23. I just recently "discovered" Lara bars and, um, yum! They are delicious and yes, I like that manynif them have only a couple of ingredients.
    Clif, eh. I like them okay. I sometimes buy the kid ones for snacks. I REALLY like the Clif granola bars, specifically White Chocolate Chip Macadamia. Oh em gee. I actually write in the box, "For cycling only" because otherwise I would eat them all at once!

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  24. Do Snickers count?

    Jason just sent me a box of Snickers Marathon bars (added protein). They are pretty good, but not as good as a real Snickers.

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    1. Um, please tell Jason to send me a box too!

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  25. I'm a big Clif fan for long run days - I'll eat about half of it before hand, another quarter during the run and the last quarter at the end. Otherwise, a banana with peanut butter is good for me before or after.

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  26. I had to stop buying Clif bars because if I have them around I find myself relying on them way to much and using it as a meal out of sheer laziness, that or popcorn..

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  27. Yay for Larabars - they are great!
    I've also become a big fan of the "Kind" bars, especially the apricot and coconut flavors. I don't necessarily know how well they would really fill me up, but they seem fairly healthy and a bit like real food (?).

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  28. I've never had more than a sports drink, even on really long runs - but you push yourself far harder than I. This marathon, I am trying bars and gels for the first time; I've opted for MuleBars, a brand I got a top ultrarunner to try and he approved. If they're good enough for him...

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  29. I just eat toast with PB and a half banana before big runs/rides and I even bring a peanut butter banana sandwich with me on long rides to snack on! Other than that I LOVE Stinger Waffles - all flavors for bike rides. I tend to not eat protein bars throughout the day, although lately I have been eating Kashi granola bars as my treat after lunch.

    Who knew a post on bars would get so much feedback!? Everyone loves them!

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  30. I will do a post on two bar recipes - and message u - too long to type! Also try pro-pudding from vitamin shop - add Greek yogurt and peanut flour - or try Julian bakery they make great breads high fiber low net carb- so u can make a sandwich w almond butter and banana b4 workout

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  31. Nice review. I tried the Luna protein bars because the nutritional information looked great but could not deal with the taste. NASTY! I agree with you-- bars might not be ideal, but they are very convenient and have a lot of essential nutrients, so why not????

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  32. I have turned the preworkout pumpkin bars into muffins successfully. The only recipe modification I did was use sweetened applesauce and use half the recommended honey.

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