Loving the BITE: Vanilla Energy Bites for Long-Lasting Cycling Energy

18
May
2017

Another cycling season, another energy bite recipe! And why not? Energy bites are an easy no-bake option for long-lasting fuel from home. While we all need the convenience of commercially-made cycling fuels now and then, there are a lot of good reasons to make some of it at home, too. And, if you’re gonna take the time to make them, they might as well taste this good.

IMG_3894

Recipe of the Week: Vanilla Energy Bites:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup walnuts, cashews, or other nuts
  • 1 cup dates or dried figs, PITTED
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 Table spoon coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

Process walnuts & coconut until crumbly. Add remaining ingredients and process until sticky.

Roll mixture into small balls about 1-inch in diameter. Place in the freeze on lined cookie sheet for 1 hour (wax paper or parchment paper work well). .

Enjoy immediately or store in sealed container for up to 10 days.

Comments:

We’ve said it before (our Nut Butter Stuffed Dates, Cocoa Energy Balls, and so many more!) and we’ll say it again: You don’t have to go into the sports nutrition aisle of your store to find some of the best fueling options available.  And, you don’t have to put much prep into it, either.  In fact, our no-bake, no-fuss Vanilla Date Energy Balls are as easy to eat as they are easy on the taste buds and stomach. They make for a great fuel option on long rides. Here’s why:

The right carbs: Dates are mostly carbohydrates, with a dash of protein.  The carbohydrates are both glucose and fructose (at almost 50:50), which give you the fastest available energy source (glucose) for use and replenishment of muscle glycogen, along with a slightly slower  carbohydrate source in fructose.  Dates do also contain fiber, and even though conventional wisdom would teach us that sports nutrition and fiber don’t mix, many athletes do fine with the digestion of dates, just like they do fine with high-fiber chia seeds and training.

A concentrated source of carbs: One of the best parts of many engineered energy fuel, and especially gels, is the amount of carbs you get in a small volume.  It’s easy to pack an extra gel in case the last hours of a century call for a bit more pick-me-up.  Or, it’s easy to take one on a short ride without having to figure out where to carry it.  The same is true of dates.  Whole or chopped, they fit easily in your jersey pocket.

The right electrolytes.  Dates naturally contain a significant amount of potassium at 100 mg per day.  Since I recommend 100-300 mg potassium, and 400-700 mg sodium per hour for any ride up to 3 hours, you’re covered with 100% potassium needs and 50% sodium needs (thanks to the added salt).  Add in a sports drink with at least 100 mg sodium per 8 oz., and you’re all set.

Antioxidants including vitamin A (eye health from betacarotene and zeaxanthin), tannins, and flavonoids. Like other whole foods, the nutrients go beyond the carbs, proteins, and fats to offer nutrients that enhance cellular health and fight and prevent disease.

Minerals. In addition to potassium, you’ll get calcium, manganese, copper, and magnesium!  These minerals are especially important for bone health, muscle contractions, and energy production.  Sounds like a good combo for a cyclist.

A bit of protein, fat, fiber, & satiety: Although protein and fat are not needed from a nutrition standpoint on most rides, easy-to-digest proteins (such as nut butters, nuts, chia, or ground flaxseeds) can provide great satiety on longer rides. If you use all quickly-digested carbs on a ride >3 hours, you’ll often get that hollow-stomach nausea feeling. Real foods, with real-food nutrients (as opposed to gels), can satisfy your stomach WHILE providing the nutrients your body can use.

Dietary polyphenols.  These antioxidants reduce inflammation and make cells more sensitive to insulin.  Both of these factors are super-important to the athlete. First, inflammation is an issue for cellular health, whole body health, and recovery.  When you think of inflamed cells, think of angry, out-of-control, destructive cells that simply do not function right.  When we eat foods and nutrients that are anti-inflammatory, they can calm these cells and create a balance in our bodies that responds better to all the chemical reactions and toxins we throw at it.

Next, there’s the whole insulin-sensitivity issue. The more sensitive cells are to insulin, the healthier they are and less likely to store fat.  They “use” carbs better, when you need energy, and replenish glycogen stores more efficiently for that upcoming ride…yes, please.  When cells are resistant to insulin, they don’t respond well to blood sugar.  This promotes a whole host of problems, including out-of-control blood sugars, disease, and more insulin resistance. The nutrients in real-foods can help.

Energy balls are once again all the rage around here, and this week they are great training fuel. Just 5 ingredients for this wonderful little fuel ball, and you’re set. What’s more, they healthy whole food ingredients make a great snack and can curb a chocolate craving (my kids usually eat them before I can get out on my bike, so I have to stash some). So, use as a snack within your meal planning, or add some salt and take along for the ride. It’s a win-win.

Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.

If you’d like to work with Kelli one-on-one with a Custom Nutrition Plan & Coaching, or download one of her acclaimed Instant Download Plans like Fuel Right Race Light, click here: Apex Nutrition Plans for Endurance Athletes. Be sure to use coupon code lovingthebike for a 15% discount!

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Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.

Answer:

Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

Sports Drink Homebrew

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

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