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How your body performs is generally a direct reflection of what you put in your mouth. Energy must be stored up for the trail, there’s no other way to perform at you best than a balanced diet and an attention to the foods that give you lasting endurance. Once you’ve done that, how do you keep up the gusto on mile 10? You pop a few energy bites, guzzle some goo, or chew on an energy waffle. There are so many options now to get your mid-workout boost, and finding the best for your adventure depends more on your preference than any secret ingredient. In reality, an athlete should have a few different types to match the need for certain activities. Grab a stack and start chomping away to find what you like and when to suck it down for maximum effectiveness.
To really know what kind of energy boost you want to tag along on your run, some thought should be taken to the taste and texture you want to suck down halfway through a workout. If fast and efficient is the goal and taste isn’t really important, reach for a GU energy gel. It has the consistency of pure honey and peanut butter, but the energy is in your system quickly. If you want to chomp on a few while you wander a trail, grab a pack of Sharkies or the Powerbar energy blasts. Try the GU chomps or Clif Shot Bloks as a pre-workout energy suppliment, they’re smooth and sweet enough to not be too unpleasant coming back up again! Taste and consistency is a personal preference so try a few and see what you like.
Here are a few observations:
1. The caffeinated boosts have a slightly bitter aftertaste. The taste is still generally good, and it is definitely worth the extra jolt of stimulant. There are two strengths, 1 cup or 2 cup so you can get a good buzz if you need it. Be sure to avoid this boost during a night run.
2. Expect most energy sources to have a bit of a salty taste. This is the replacement sodium and potassium electrolytes that are being lost through sweat. It will help to avoid cramping and let you play longer. The honey stinger brands are sweeter than most, so the salty taste is most minimized by their flavors if you are really adverse to a bit of salt with your sweet.
3. Make sure to mix it up. Keep a few different types of energy sources in your bag to keep your workout interesting. You’re more likely to grab a snack and keep energy up when you have a few to choose from.
4. The ratings in the table match personal preference, not necessarily performance since energy sources and their respective effects are virtually impossible to evaluate with so many outside variables (like what was eaten for breakfast).
As a final note: remember to drink plenty of water to wash down and help metabolize the snack into a useful energy boost.
Now get out there and chug some life. – DS