Fueling your exercise routine

Fueling your exercise routine

Life TalkIt’s important to provide your body good sources of fuel for exercise, but how exactly do you decide if something is good fuel or not?  Today, you can venture into any grocery store and find a dedicated aisle of sports bars to choose from.  While this may seem a convenient and healthy offering, it’s most often deceiving and you may be getting more than what you bargained for (and I don’t mean more in a good way).

Here are five things to consider when selecting a sports bar or drink:

  1. What purpose will the sports bar serve?
    • Are you eating for pre-workout energy? (in need of a small carbohydrate boost)
    • Are you providing the body replenishment post exercise? (need protein & carbs to replenish)
    • Are you consuming the sports bar as an afternoon snack? (need a pick-me-up)
    • Consider the needs of your individual body and the contents of the bar. While a small carbohydrate boost may serve you well pre-workout, you’ll want more protein accompanied by carbohydrate after you exercise.  And while sports bars might be a quick and easy snack for the long workday, you are probably overdoing it eating one of these bars at your desk.
  2. What’s in the ingredient list?
    • Focus on whole food ingredients
    • If you can’t read it, pronounce it or understand it, it doesn’t belong in your body
    • Is it a short list, or long list? The longer the list, the easier it is to hide unwanted ingredients
    • Stick with a list that contains 5 or less ingredients
  3. What is the protein source?
    • Select bars with whole food protein sources
      • Nuts and Seeds
      • Hemp Protein
      • Pea Protein
      • Brown Rice Protein
    • Avoid soy and whey protein
  4. Identify the sugar sources
    • While it is important to check the amount of sugar you’re consuming per serving, it’s even more important to understand the quality of the sugar you’re about to eat.
    • Select bars that are naturally sweetened with ingredients like:
      • Nuts and Seeds
      • Fruit
      • Dates and Figs
      • Honey
      • Maple Syrup
    • Avoid ingredients like: sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and any artificial sweetener (aspartame, phenylalanine, sucralose)
  5. Beware of the calorie count
    • Some sports bars are used as a meal replacement and can contain a high number of calories per serving. It isn’t necessary to consume this type of bar unless you need to replenish a higher number of calories due to longer exercise.
    • While I don’t encourage calorie counting on a daily basis it is important to periodically gauge your food intake and make sure your choices are serving you well.

There once was a time when sports bars did not exist and people relied on whole food options to fuel their bodies for exercise and health.  You can challenge yourself to do the same!  It’s also an incredibly important skill to teach your children to make healthy food choices at an early age, and many sports bars are even specifically targeted at children! Focus on plant-based foods that provide the body good sources of protein, carbohydrates and fat; you’ll provide the body the fuel it needs while giving it a dose of high phytonutrient-content food to boost the immune system, fight disease and support you in your healthy lifestyle.

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