Athletes often need an extra source of energy in comparison to a person who lives a lesser active life. Energy bars supplement these needs. Being easily available and quick source of calories, Energy bars are quite popular among sports persons and athletes. For a faster source of energy during the workout energy bars may serve a purpose, but they are no replacement of real food and its benefits. In the disciplined life of an athlete, a planned meal as well as quick reasonable snack have their own places. In this article we shall discuss more about the energy bars and how real food can be the source of extra energy an athlete may need.
Why do athletes need Energy Bars ?
Anything an athlete eats or does, during the active period of his career contributes to his physical and functional aspects of the body. Here the question arises, do athletes actually need an extra source of energy in the form of energy bars ? An athletes life is a super busy schedule. It is planned for several activities in advance, which includes, regular training, attending meetings, regularly incrustation by the sports admin and many more. During all these activities sometimes the athlete feels drained of energy. In these times of training camps, frequent travel etc, energy bars come to the rescue with a quick and convenient source of calories.
Energy bars Before or during the workout or post work out phases
Different kinds energy bars are available in the market. They my be purely one kind of nutrient or a mix of two or more than two. Hence it is up to the athlete or the sports nutrition specialist to determine what kind of energy bar the athlete needs to consume and when. It is important to know the ingredients of the energy bars, rather than getting attracted to shining ones. It is also important to consume adequate amount of fluid along with the energy bars.
Before the work out
During this phase athletes need something that is digested and quickly assimilated in to the body. Energy bars that are rich in carbohydrates are good for such phase. It has also to be kept in mind about the athletes tolerance level to such kind of supplement. Some have a specific kind gut tolerance to food and activities. For more intense workout programs athletes may prefer avoiding bar which is rich in fibers and can result in gastric issues.
Post work out
During the post work out phase , bars rich in carbohydrates can help in replenishing the the glycogen in the body. At the same time adequate amount of protein in the energy bar can help in muscle recovery. Alternatively athletes may choose a natural source of protein addition such as protein smoothie along with the energy bars to complement the recovery process. If the post workout supplements have been planned well in advance, the athlete may consult with the sports nutritionist for advice regarding consumption of the energy bars.
Energy bars are not replacements of real food.
Due to any reason if an athlete is stuck in busy schedules, he/she may choose to have energy bars rather than not eating at all. However, these are not substitutes of real food. The benefits of balanced and planned diet can not be undermined under any circumstances. The bars may provide a temporary source of energy, but the balanced wholesome diet is the key to providing the body all major and micro nutrients that may need.
Real Food options
Energy bars can not replace the real food. Thought the sales advertisement campaigns may talk highly of energy bars. They are only a temporary solution. Sometimes relying too much on food like energy bar may result in missing out the benefits that balanced real food can provide. It has to be balanced always. Lets look for some real food ideas for adequate energy supply.
Food that can be easily carried for pre-workout
Prepackaged or small packs of fig cookies, raisins, oat meal, honey sandwich, breakfast cereal, crackers can be a good option for providing an extra energy source.
Post-Workout: During the post work-out phase, the athlete can consume flavored milk. This can be added with whole grain cereal and nonfat milk,. These are simple foods that have proven to be as effective or better than specialized recovery products in several studies. A 4-to-1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein is considered best for optimal for muscle recovery.
Snacks (also good post-workout options):
- Lowfat cottage cheese and fruit
- Ready-to-eat whole grain cereal and milk
- Lowfat yogurt and fruit
- Snack size can of tuna and whole grain crackers
- Whole grain bread spread with peanut or almond butter
- Dried fruit and nut mix
- Steamed Vegetables or whole grain pita
- Mixed fruit smoothie