Which energy bar?

I’m long overdue a blog post; especially an update on the half. That’s coming, I promise! In the meantime, I have been busy on my training runs trying out various energy bars, gels and protein to find out what works.

One problem I’ve faced time and time again is choosing a gel or bar that is right for me. Sometimes you get that ‘proteiny’ taste, or it’s too chewy, or makes your tummy hurt, or the flavour is just really not what you’re after.

While I’ve currently struck the right balance with some MyProtein berry energy bars (yum! – more on these in another post), there are some things I would definitely recommend doing before choosing as the right bars should be seen as a good investment – you don’t want to waste your cash.

1. The taste test 

Does the company in question do samples of the bars? Sometimes companies push samples out through LatestFreeStuff.co.uk, but if you’re in a bit of a rush why not write to them and ask?

Failing that, it’s only £1 – 3 max for a good energy bar, so if you have the funds, bite the bullet and buy one bar of each type that you want to try! Do this in a store such as Holland and Barrett where you can pick up the loyalty points and put them toward future bars. Win!

2. Take the energy bar generator 

Decathlon has just published a pretty handy energy bar generator,  which is basically a fun way to figure out what energy bar you’re into.

All you have to do is pick what fruit you like, whether you’re gluten free or a chocolate lover, what sport and level of intensity it is and it’ll come up with a really simple recipe to suit your specific needs.

Bear in mind these are bars you make yourself rather than ones you buy in the shop – so if you have the time and inclination, then it’s probably a good option (and a bit of craic).

3. DIY 

That brings me on to my next point… do it yourself! Baking or making your own energy bars really isn’t that difficult and means you can dictate what you want in (or out) of them.

All you need is a hand whisk or food processor, an oven or fridge, a bowl to mix everything about in and some weighing scales. Use the generator above to score a recipe, et viola, you’re in business.

4. Performance 

While you can taste and make energy bars until the cows come home, there is just one key test to determine what they are really like, and that’s how you perform with them.

Before heading out for a run, make sure you eat your energy bar at least half an hour prior. See how it affects you on your run – does it make you noticeably faster? Do you get a sugar crash midway through? Does it make your tummy hurt?

All of these are signs that you need to change something about it – an ingredient for example, or a brand.

There are runs, especially longer runs, where you will need at least a bar if not a gel (unless you’re superman/woman in which case, hats off to you!) so getting to grips with which is right for you as early as you can is definitely a good decision.

Any favourite recipes or brands? Comment below! 🙂 

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Running on coffee: Good or bad?

Caffeine is great, isn’t it? It’s sometimes the only one thing that stops me from feeling completely zombified the day after a heavy gym session.

But it’s not something I’d generally drink before going out on a run.

Coffee’s making its way into runners’ hearts, however. With products like TrueStart on the market, it’s becoming a friendly drink for pre and post-runs.

And as Runner’s World says, there are plenty of ways to use caffeine in your training, if you get the timing and amounts right.

So as my first coffee and running experiment, I decided to give Nespresso a go – and started with CafePod.

They were kind enough to send me a taster pack of four different flavours: Columbia, Sumatra, Ristretto and the very, very aptly named Supercharger.

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Strengths ranged from nine to 12 – and while they were just numbers on a box to me at first, I completely understood the reasoning once I’d tasted them!

In terms of running, do drink coffee at least 45 minutes prior to going for a run – no sooner and no further away than that. A strength nine is perfect for running – 10 – 12 for post runs or recovery the next day.

Taste-wise, Columbia was by far my favourite – I’m no coffee expert but it was very smooth and almost had a nutty flavour to it that gave it a unique edge.

Supercharger definitely came in a close second. This one I tried after I needed a little pick me up and within about 15 minutes of drinking, I kind of ‘woke up’ really quickly – needless to say that was a very productive afternoon!

But when it comes to coffee and running/workouts, the best use – for me, at least – is definitely post run and recovery. It can be pretty tricky to get the timing right for pre-run to feel the full effects of the coffee rush, but if anyone has any tips, then please be my guest and let me know!

And the lovely people at CafePod have given me 20% to give off the pods for anyone interested in grabbing themselves some – my code is RPR20 which you can just pop in on the online till before the end of July.

Five home cooked, lean meals delivered to my door? Yes please!

Cooking. You either love it or you hate it. Personally, I find it quite relaxing (aside from the washing up!) but sometimes between work and the gym lack the time to cook fully nutritional meals.

A few weeks ago, Go Fuel Meals offered to send me a sample of five of their homecooked meals, delivered straight to my door in Bristol.

Of course, I said yes.

Go Fuel Meals provide weekly meal offers, with a choice of three to seven meals, five to seven days a week. It’s quite simple; you pick a choice of protein, carb and veg and it comes delivered in a cold-packed box, neatly packed in lunch boxes.

I was at work at the time, but the courier left the box outside my front door. It being cold-packed, the meals were still fresh the few hours later I got home. Score.

The expiry date was clearly written on each meal, along with the ingredients, which ranged from peri-peri chicken and brown rice with asparagus, to baked salmon, cous cous and leek. So all the meals were uber healthy and sitting in my fridge, waiting for me to go.

Over the course of the weekend, I’d grab one before the gym, heat it up and have it as a post-workout snack – before I knew it, I’d scoffed the entire lot in the space of three days.

The meals were delicious. Everything was cooked really well, including the sweet potato (no hard lumpy bits!) and it was so handy to have really healthy meals ready to go before and after the gym.

I wasn’t paid to write this review, aside from being provided the products free of charge. But I do personally recommend these meals if you’re time-pushed but still want to eat healthily; particularly if you’re training hard for something gym or running related.

And the customer service I received was second to none. Saqib, who sent me the meals, was so kind, polite and really accommodating.

So the food’s delicious, fresh, well cooked, on time – and the company’s very friendly. What’s not to love?  A+ from me!

Cauli Rice = Low carb rice… really?

Cauli Rice, a low-carb alternative to rice made from cauliflower, will be hitting Tesco shelves soon.

And man I can’t wait to try some!

I had the pleasure of profiling its founder Gem Misa on BusinessZone recently, as she’s just going for her third round of crowdfunding.

“You can make it yourself, but it’s really time consuming – and I realised that there was a gap in the market for a ready-prepared version,” she said.

For runners, it’s got about a quarter of the calories of rice, but looks and tastes just like it and gives the same level of satisfaction.

Of course, runners need carbs, but when your appetite goes mad during training season (like mine) it sounds like a great pick me up when you’re piling more and more onto your plate.

It’s also gluten free.

Yum – sign me up!