Typically, I'm not a fan of "sports nutrition" food items.
What do I mean by that?
Well, think of products like Gatorade, Clif Bars, Gu Gels and the like.
Why don't I like them?
I don't like them because the average person who uses them doesn't need them. For example, I read a blog the other day written by someone who was running a 10K ... who carb loaded the night before and fueled during the run.
Calorie wise, they likely took in more than they burned:
Average 10 calories burned per minute running
Average 60 minute 10K =
Average pasta dinner (500) + garlic bread (200) + wine (100)
energy gel (100) =
Most people don't see through all the marketing hype of these types of products and realize that unless you're a high endurance athlete, you don't need the stuff. Take me for example: I always thought I needed an energy gel around mile 8 to get me through a half marathon ... until one day I figured out that taking sips of the on course provided energy drink and water was more than enough to get me through a run - even on the hottest days. After that, I started testing and realized: most days, I could make it through a 10-12 mile training run with no fuel and very little water (disclaimer - always drink plenty of water on hot days). That's when I came to the conclusion that I'd been over doing it for a long, long time.
Don't get me wrong, these items do have their place. Marathoners and endurance athletes who are going non stop for 2+ hours definitely need the convenience of portable calories and electrolytes/salt. But the rest of us average joes who are just trying to work out for an hour or less at a time to keep the jelly belly off... not so much.
So, with that intro, you're probably wondering why the heck I'm doing a product review for an energy bar. Well, let's revisit something I said in my previous paragraph: convenience and portable calories.
To set the scene, awhile back I was on the way to the gym to teach my usual Tuesday night aerobics class and I realized something - I was so hungry, I felt like I was going to gnaw my arm off. For the previous few weeks, I had been dialing back into my healthy eating habits, so feeling a tad snacky was nothing new... in fact, I had been trying to play off that exact hunger all afternoon at work and just focus on drinking water, figuring that was my issue. But as my car exited the highway and the idea of me putting a workout on top of this hunger hit me, I thought my stomach might jump out my throat and run away from me. That's when I knew I had a problem.
Counting in my head as I drove, I realized what my issue was... I had gone too far in the other direction of eating awareness for the day and had only consumed about 600 calories. And, I was about to burn almost that much teaching an aerobics class. I needed to eat pronto.
Having 20 or so minutes before students were going to start showing up for class, I knew my only option at that point would be to pick something from the vending machines at the gym. Yeah, I know - that doesn't sound too appealing ... but thankfully, they at least had a few "healthy-ish" options in there to choose from. I looked at a few different bags of nuts and energy bars, when something caught my eye:
I thought to myself: Hmmm. I do love those lemon bars that end up on cookie trays at the holidays... and I haven't had one in years. Maybe it would be comparable?
The $1.75 vending machine price did make me guffaw a little, but what could I do? I was stuck. In went my cash, and out came the bar.
Of course, before I even took a bite, I had to look at the nutrition info. Why, I don't know, because I wasn't going to NOT eat the thing at that point. Habit, I guess.
In case you're curious, here's what the website says on a high level about the bar:
How can something so good for us be so delicious? It’s simple. Start with the best ingredients possible (nothing artificial, 70% organic) and nutrition that matters most to women. Mix with flavors that make mouths water and the rest is sweet (and healthy!) history.
High in calcium and folic acid
Rich in antioxidants A, C, E
9g protein, 3g fiber
And here's what the details are:
Overall, the bar didn't look THAT bad (as compared to the other vending machine options of Sour Patch Kids, Doritos, Snickers and the like). Unfortunately, the amount of saturated fat in the bar put me off a little, since I would have hoped something "healthy-ish" like this would be a little leaner in that department. But, when I thought about it from the perspective of a dessert replacement... well, not so bad I guess.
And speaking of dessert, I have to say - the thing was pretty good! I mean, it wasn't exactly the lemon bar I was thinking of, but given the size of bar and the nutritional content, it was a pretty fair trade off. The overall flavor was similar to the lemon bar, and although the texture was different, it was still nice and light, a bit crunchy, and a tad chewy. Think of a cross between that lemon bar on the cookie tray and the rice crispy treats you grew up loving as a kid. Pretty tasty.
Not having much time to spare, I couldn't exactly savor the bar, so I ate it fairly quickly and chased it with a bunch of water. Then I crossed my fingers, changed into my workout clothes, and hoped the citrus choice wouldn't literally come back to burn me later.
And then I promptly forgot about the bar. Which I find pretty impressive. Why? First, the fiber (or something) in the bar really took the edge off my hunger. Second, the bar was mild enough that I could eat it less than 30 minutes prior to a high impact and strength training based aerobics class and not suffer any ill effects.
At the end of class, on my way home, I thought... huh. I kinda liked it. Maybe energy bars aren't a product of the devil after all?????
So where does this leave me?
To be honest, I still don't think anyone really NEEDS a "sports nutrition" item. A healthy, balanced diet heavy in fruits and vegetables will replace anything you burn in a typical, every day joe type of workout.
However, if you're ever in a pinch and need something last second, the Luna bar wasn't too bad.
Just don't over do it.
And, as an added bonus, it makes a decent substitute for a dessert you probably shouldn't eat anyway... so if that's your trade off, I guess I can handle it!