Picky Bars: It’s Freaking Science, Dude!
I’m always on the hunt for the perfect pre-run fuel to help sustain me for longer periods of time. Nutrition is perhaps the most complicated aspect of effective training, in my opinion. There are so many factors to consider, including carb:protein ratio, allergens and other dietary restrictions, sugar content, and certainly taste as well! I’ve written before about my attempts to cut out processed sugar from my diet as a whole, as well as my experiments with homemade running nutrition.
In recent months, my diet decisions have been even more altered as I have done my best to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, which the beautiful epicurean knows firsthand has an important impact on her health and daily well-being. Although I may not suffer from an acute auto-immune disorder, the change in diet still benefits me a great deal, and has drastically improved my energy and running performance. In recent weeks, we have been working through an elimination diet as a way of trying to isolate which foods are larger triggers for her. As a result, we have been eating basically vegan, as well as gluten- and dairy-free. Although it has been spending a bit more time brainstorming meals and deciding where and if we can eat at restaurants, the results have been clearly beneficial. These steps have all allowed me to look more critically at my running nutrition.
So, when I came across Picky Bars, my eyes immediately lit up! On paper, the fact that they were gluten and dairy-free, had the perfect 4:1 carb to protein ratio, and had minimal sugars (mostly natural) meant they might just be the perfect pre-run fuel for me. The bars are the creation of Lauren Fleshman, a prolific U.S. runner and 5x NCAA champ. We ordered a sampler pack so we could try all of the different flavors and get a true sense of whether we liked them or not.
The bars come in 4 flavors: the “Smooth Caffeinator” Hazelnut Mocha Madness, the “All-In-Almond” Agave Sweetened Awesomesauce, “The Need for Seed” Sunflower butter sensation, and “Lauren’s Mega-Nuts” (the original bar). I assumed I would be initially drawn to the “Smooth Caffeinator”, based on my love of all things coffee 🙂 In the past, I’ve actually shied away from coffee-flavored nutrition as it seemed too heavy before or during a run. However, this time, as with each of these bars, the perfectly moist, chewy, and just solid-enough texture, coupled with the natural sweeteners and delicious melding of flavors meant I was hooked! I’m not a fan of nutrition bars that are too dry or too moist, and these found the sweet spot.
In addition to tasting great, these nutrition bars also happen to provide me with an excellent balance of sustained energy throughout my runs. My stomach is typically yelling at me for real food after about 2 hours, and that didn’t happen after eating one of these bars before my runs. I also didn’t feel the sugar spike that can come with some of the nutrition bars on the market, which no doubt had a lot to do with the lack of added sugar. Overall, I was very happy with these bars, and certainly plan to add them into the regular rotation!