Loving the BITE: Whole-Food Easy Training Fuel, Salted Date Bites
Sometimes, a natural whole-food is just the fuel needed when on the bike. More often than not, real foods taste refreshing, satisfying, and cause less stomach issues than engineered fuel. I believe there’s room for both.
As you know, I love homemade fueling recipes with minimal ingredients, but I’ll also use and recommend hand-picked gels, bars, and even “regular” foods as fuel. This week, it doesn’t get any easier than our 2-ingredient whole-food on-the-bike fuel. Adequate in carbohydrates, sodium, and potassium, these bites are perfect quick and on-going energy. Just add fluids and roll.
Recipe of the week: Salted Date Bites
- 2 Dates (~46 grams) Medjool or other varieties
- 1/12 tsp sea salt (~0.5 grams)
- Chop dates.
- Roll dates in salt or place in baggie and shake well with salt to coat.
- Place in small baggie for travel.
- Eat as fuel for pre-training, during training, or with an added protein source, recovery.
Makes 1 serving. Nutrition information: Approx. 140 calories, 36 grams carbs, 0 grams fat, 3 gm fiber, 310 mg sodium, 200 mg potassium.
Turns out, you don’t have to go into the sports nutrition aisle of your store to find one of the best fueling options available. And, you don’t have to put much prep into it, either. Here’s why Salted Date Bites are one of my new go-to fuel options:
- 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 with Salted Date Bites. 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 magnsesium. These minerals are especially important for bone health, muscle contractions, and energy production. Sounds like a good combo for a cyclist.
- Cost: My bulk dried dates set me back $8 and contains 20 servings for this Salted Dried Date recipe. At $0.40 per serving, gels are hard-pressed to compete.
This week, it’s as easy as chop, salt, bag, and ride. All-natural, easy, and the right nutrients. Try it out and see if salted dates work for you. There are many good fuel choices available, and the trick is finding what digests, tastes good, and delivers energy well on your ride. Salted Date Bites might just become your new go-to fuel as well.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.