What really works the best for athletic performance? These results are pretty astounding! See below for the full presentation.
Surprising research and results show healthy fats may be better.
Here is my latest attempt at homemade energy bars. I don’t like the ‘store-bought’ varieties, and the “Go Raw” bars I do buy are pretty expensive, so I made my own version, and they turned out great!
Well, here is another attempt at some good homemade energy bars. I don’t generally like the ‘store-bought’ varieties–so many of them have too much sugar (in the form of rice syrup, extra fruit, corn syrup, etc.), soy protein, artificial ingredients, etc.
The bars I do like best–are pretty darn expensive, so I decided to make my own version of these.
These are full of nuts, a little bit of fruit for sweetness, a touch of salt and not baked, but dehydrated at a low oven temp overnight. This preserves the natural enzymes in the ingredients, plus helps the bars hold together with just the right amount of chewiness.
And they are gluten free, dairy free, corn free, soy free and Paleo as well.
This particular rendition actually tasted a lot like Clif bars–without the grain or other additives. If you’d like them to have some extra sweetness, I’d suggest adding those miniature chocolate chips, or whole raisins–after you are done blending them.
Give these a try, these bars are excellent fuel for a longer bike ride, run, hike, or busy day.
These ingredients are all approximate. I just added ingredients to get the right consistency.
1/2 cup mixed nuts ( I used all natural, roasted cashews, pistachios, and almonds)
1/2-1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup raisins
10 or so dates
1/3 cup natural peanut butter (I suggest Trader Joe’s Valencia and flax seed peanut butter)
2-3 scoops of cold processed vanilla protein powder
1/2 raw apple
1/3-1/2 cup natural flaked or shredded coconut
2 Tbsp or so real Maple Syrup or Honey
1/4 cup or so water
In a food processor, add pumpkin seeds, nuts, raisins, and dates and mix. Add peanut butter, and other ingredients and mix until well blended. Add a small amount of water if mixture is crumbly. Mixture should end up like thick cookie dough. If you’d like chocolate chips or whole raisins, stir in after everything is mixed up.
Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet lightly with butter, and drop cookie-sized spoonfuls on sheet. Smash down till about a half inch or less thick. Cook in oven overnight–about 8 hours. Bars should be solid when done. Cool. Enjoy!!
I will keep working on these to come up with different varieties and flavors. Let me know what you think!
Till next time, Stay Healthy and Lean!
For more easy to fix, gluten free, dairy free, superfood recipes, click here to subscribe to my Simple Smart Newsletter.
Catherine (Cat) Ebeling RN BSN, is a back to basics diet and nutrition specialist. In addition to her advanced degree in nursing from a major medical school, she has spent the last 30 years intensely studying diet, health and nutrition. She also has a book titled “The Fat Burning Kitchen, Your 24 Hour Diet Transformation” that has sold 100,000 copies worldwide, and has helped thousands of people transform their lives, lose weight and improve their health.
Her mission is to help others prevent disease and live their best life ever.
Nutrition made Easy. Simple.Smart.Nutrition.
As a competitive cyclist, I am around athletes all the time.
It’s amazing to me what some of them eat, drink and fuel their bodies with before, during and after races.
The myth of ‘carb loading’ is still there, as well as attempting to fuel with sugary, chemical-laden substances before and during and after races.
Does it work? Well no, not really.
What do you eat to fuel your body properly for athletic performance?
It’s probably not what you think. Athletes and weekend warriors alike seem to always be looking for the latest powders, drink mixes, energy bars, supplements, gels, etc. to give themselves the ‘edge’ in competition.
We spend millions of dollars on ‘energy’ drinks and ‘energy’ bars each year.
While food manufacturers would like you to believe there are all kinds of performance-related nutrients in these things, it all really boils down to two ingredients: sugar and caffeine.
The rest of it is chemicals, chemically processed, and virtually useless ingredients as well as empty calories. Fueling your body with sugar and caffeine eventually leads to a decline in energy, not an increase. Sugar starts with a quick high, but it is followed by plummeting energy levels.
So, over the long run, any type of sugar used as a fuel will deplete you of energy.
In fact, any kinesiologist or chiropractor will show you how sugar dramatically reduces strength.
So where should an athlete get energy to fuel the fires to compete?
For any event lasting longer than a half hour, energy is going to have to come from a better source. Eating simple carbs like sugar, honey, corn syrup—even processed white flour as in pasta, bread, cookies, doughnuts, etc. before an event will cause a spike in blood sugar followed by a fall and loss of energy.
Simple carbs and even excessive complex carbs cause sluggishness and will hamper athletic performance in the long run.
Although many athletes still follow the ‘carb-loading’ principle, burning any type of sugar (carbs turn to sugar in the body) is not what the body needs over the long haul of an event.
Controlling the blood sugar and insulin is actually key to athletic performance.
When insulin levels are under control, the body will be more likely to burn fat for energy.
This is called ‘thermogenesis’ and any elite athlete has a body that is highly capable of this.
Why do we want to burn fat for energy? The body turns to burning fat for energy after only a short period of time in any physically demanding activity. Fat not only works for a long-term fuel for the body, it supplies a ready amount of ATP, which is the energy powerhouse for muscles.
ATP is the primary energy and strength-producing fuel within the body for muscles.
The more ATP available, the more energy your muscles have and the better you perform. Carbohydrates as an energy source only supply your muscles with 38 molecules of ATP per molecule. The difference when utilizing fat as an energy source is that a single fat molecule will produce 129 molecules of ATP!
That’s a HUGE difference!
That’s the difference between sustained energy in an athletic event and ‘bonking’. If your body has a habit of only using simple carbohydrates for energy, you will bonk after a short time.
So the difference between fueling with fat or carbohydrates comes down to the difference between a high level of athletic performance, or just being one of the pack.
Obviously the smart thing to do then, is to fuel your body with good healthy fats and protein prior to an athletic event.
How do you do this exactly? On a day-to-day basis, make sure you are supplying your body with adequate amounts of healthy protein, good fats, and complex carbohydrates (non-grain sources are the best).
Healthy fats for athletic performance are omega 3 fats with EPA and DHA in them, such as those found in grass fed meats, wild caught fish, and free-range eggs; saturated fats such as the kind you find in grass fed butter and grass fed meats; monosaturated fats such as coconut oil (full of medium chain triglycerides that provide many of the crucial metabolic constituents needed to burn fat effectively and boost energy) olive oil, avocados, and nuts.
Get protein from a high quality source to be sure you are getting the right amount of omega 3 fats, as well as the proper protein. Grass fed meat provides the best, most usable protein the body can use, along with other essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, CLA (a muscle building and fat burning nutrient), and a host of other vitamins and minerals necessary for muscles and energy.
Prior to popular beliefs, carbohydrate sources for athletes do not need to come from grain or starchy products.
In fact, in a recent experiment with a world-famous professional cycling team, wheat was removed from the training table, and healthier carbohydrate sources were substituted. The athletes found their performance, sleep and digestion improved drastically—even though the cyclists were not gluten or wheat-intolerant.
The best carbohydrate sources come from organic fresh, colorful, and antioxidant-rich vegetables and organic fruits.
So what’s the best combination of these foods for supreme athletic performance?
Well, follow these simple rules and you will find your energy levels and performance soar.
Try utilizing these energy rules for your athletic endeavors and you will see your performance, stamina and energy soar! Sources: Dr. Ben Lerner, “Energy Rules for Athletes” posted by Dr. Mercola, September 2005, Mercola.com. Shane Ellison, “Fat for Energy and Raw Athletic Power”, The People’s Chemist.com, 2006