In my quest to cycle between Ottawa and Cornwall, I have been investigating portable snacks to bring with my on my rides. I made Almond Chocolate Larabars earlier in the season and liked the combination of dates, almonds and chocolate. The bars were a bit crumbly but otherwise a hit.
Then I spotted Cocoa Nibbles, posted by Ashley at Eat Me, Delicious, who found them through Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs. They looked right up my alley with simple, healthy ingredients, akin to other Larabar recipes. Dried dates, almonds, cocoa powder, vanilla and mint are combined to create a fudgy-, datey- cocoa mint nibble. None of the flavours are overpowering and the dates provide a great dose of carbohydrates during a training session. They had good shape, even outside the fridge for many hours. Straight from the fridge, they have a darker fudge texture. The date flavour is more pronounced when eaten at room temperature. I also liked that I made around 16 “nibbles” from the entire batch (50 calories, 9g carb, 1.6g fat, 111 mg potassium per nibble). I wrapped each one up as a portable snack and they were there perfect size to eat during a long cycle. I can’t wait to try the flavour variations suggested by Ricki for my upcoming bicycle rides.
This is my submission to Blog Bites #6 hosted by One Hot Stove.
It is no secret that one must stay hydrated during long workouts and to keep fuelled with carbohydrate-rich snacks. There are many ways to replenish water and sugar – from sports drinks, gels, energy bars, fruit, etc – and I have begun to investigate the various options. It is always best to experiment during your training, not during your event. Of course, though, I am experimenting with creating these options in my own kitchen.
Beware: I am also in the medical field, so as I wrote this post, I realized it quickly became quite academic. There is science to this which is why I tried to link to the pubmed resources I reference.
The benefits of remaining hydrated are obvious: your performance will be impaired if you are dehydrated by even 1-2%. It is therefore recommended to replenish the water you lose as sweat throughout your workout. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking 500 mL of fluid 1-2 hours before you begin and then to replace as necessary with cold drinks throughout your workout. However, a 1:1 replacement of lost body weight is likely to overestimate your water needs and lead to hyperhydration. It is best to figure out your needs during training, based on the type of exercise, weather, level of training, etc, but aiming to replace 50-80% of the change in your body weight pre- and post-exercise is less likely to induce the ill-effects of drinking too much water. You may not feel thirsty during exercise (think fight or flight responses) and studies consistently show athletes do not adequately replace water. I am likely totally guilty of that and it is worse during long, hot rides.
Sports drinks are very popular because compared to water, they replace fluid, electrolyte and carbohydrate losses. Sodium and potassium are important to replace during prolonged exercise and they confer additional benefits like augmenting glucose and water absorption in the small intestine. A sports drink with 4-8% of carbohydrates is recommended as concentrations higher than that, as found in fruit juices and soft drinks, may delay gastric-emptying. In addition to the science behind sports drinks, a flavoured drink tastes better and encourages you to drink more. I can attest to that!
Most of the commercial sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc) contain 6% carbohydrate, ~100 mg sodium and ~30 mg potassium in each cup but also taste artificial and are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. There is one benefit of commerical sports drinks, though, and that’s that they are fairly ubiquitous. I try to pack fairly light during long rides and this way you could buy drinks enroute and recycle the containers afterwards.
I was on a quest to find my own homemade sports drink and really like the one found in Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. It is not too sweet and tastes great. It is also ridiculously easy to make and much cheaper than the commerical drinks. The recipe has also been posted here and here with other drink recipes. I’d love to hear about your own recipes for sports drinks.