Energy Bars/Drinks

Different sports bars and drinks have various functions. Some provide simple sugar for quick energy. Others contain complex carbohydrates and protein for energy, growth, and repair. A few comprised of 30 percent fat tout the notion that to lose fat you must ingest fat.

And the latest craze is 100 calorie, disposable packets of instant syrup appropriately termed "GU". But for the sake of space, we will discuss the two largest genres of bars and drinks.

The "PowerBar" type products contain approximately 250 calories from simple and complex carbohydrates, with a modicum of protein. They contain high fructose corn syrup and fructose. These products are used for quick energy. PowerBars are chewy (unless refrigerated, then they become rock-hard) and tasty. "Gatorade" type sports drinks fit this category because of their energy contribution and provision of sodium and potassium. If you are exercising in excess of two hours, research has demonstrated that carbohydrate drinks, juices, and bars can enhance your performance. Sometimes sports bars and drinks are too sugary. Simply dilute the drinks with water or eat half of a bar and save the other half for later. Look for sports drinks with between ten and twenty grams of carbohydrates per eight ounce serving (more carbohydrates than that decreases fluid absorption into the intestines). Make sure your drink has equal amounts of potassium and sodium (about fifty milligrams in an eight ounce serving). And enjoy the taste (you will drink it if you like it). Quick-energy bars and drinks may contain refined sugar, a syrup derived from fruit, rice, or corn.

Some claim to contain minuscule amounts of "added nutrients."

Your hunger and thirst mechanism may malfunction during intense exercise. Body weight may drop a few pounds before you feel thirsty.I prime the pump by sipping fluids or nibbling energy bars while cycling.If you need to rehydrate, juices are ninety-five percent water, and oranges ninety percent. Also soups, grapes, and yogurt are mostly water. Coffee and tea are ninety-nine percent water but the caffeine produces a moderate diuretic effect. Carry a bottle filled with your favorite energy drink, or rip into a sports bar of your choice. Another division of bars and drinks are designated as engineered foods. They contain quality protein for muscle growth and repair, with slow release carbohydrates for energy. Recent research suggests the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of protein (.8 grams per kilogram of body weight), may be too low for active individuals. Peter Lemon Ph.D., renowned for his work on muscle metabolism at Kent State University, encourages endurance and strength athletes to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight on a daily basis. He advocates athletes eat several small protein portions through the day rather than consuming large quantities at a single sitting. And consuming carbohydrate/protein following a workout refuels muscle glycogen stores. Because engineered bars and drinks are quick and convenient, they have become America's healthy version of fast-food mini-meals. They range between 250 and 310 calories with about 40 grams of protein, 30 grams of carbohydrate, and less than 2 grams of fat. Many of these engineered foods are packed with vitamins and minerals. They are delicious on-the-road refreshment and are a great quick fix.

Sports bars and drinks are not short-cuts to perfect nutrition. They do not replace food. Well-balanced meals are here to stay. There is no magic elixir. Different bars and drinks come and go in fads. Beware of expensive, fat-burning, muscle-building, mind-expanding products.Supplements are a billion dollar industry.