Energize and Restore: Mastering Fitness Nutrition with Energy and Protein Bars
Written by Registered Dietitian, Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, MS, RDN
Exercising is a key ingredient in choosing to follow a healthy lifestyle. However, in order to take exercise to the next level and optimize results, nutrition should also be a part of the equation. And that means eating well both before and after the workout. There is clear evidence that smart and diligent nutrition can help enhance and prolong exercise results. That’s why fitness nutrition has never been more popular and why education on this matter is of the utmost importance.
Fueling Fitness: The Science of Pre-Workout Energy Bars
A bit of science 101 for you. Every cell in the body needs energy to function. And that goes beyond basic functioning and survival; every cell has to have energy to react, repair, recover, travel and to ultimately, thrive. But where does the energy come from to perform these tasks? It comes from the foods we eat! Our bodies are searching for macronutrients in food, like carbohydrates, to give us energy to do things (like get out of bed in the morning, go on a hike or take a jog) and for macronutrients, like protein, to help repair and build muscles. Carbohydrates and protein are the pillars in endurance and strength training and help support sustained stamina in any exercise routine as well as workout recovery.
Let me share some physiology so you have an understanding of what exactly happens to the body when you workout. When you exercise briefly or for short periods of time, your body uses readily available glucose to help you run that mile, do a kettlebell swing or complete a minute of jumping jacks. This is when the banana you ate in the morning, your pre-workout energy bar, or oatmeal comes in handy because these foods have been quickly broken down and can be utilized for fast and efficient energy. The foods you decide to eat pre-workout can truly amplify your workout readiness and stamina.
However, when you are engaging in exercise for a longer period of time, your body may have already gone through the readily available glucose circulating in your bloodstream. Therefore, it needs to dip into glycogen reserves (which is where the extra storage of energy or glucose is preserved) in your muscles and liver to complete whatever rigorous task at hand. Your workout stamina and long lasting energy is dependent on this metabolic process known as glycogenolysis, for that extra oomph to get you through your activity.
Maximizing Recovery: The Role of Protein Bars in Post-Workout Regimen
During your exercise or long hike, those hard at work muscles and fibers have been torn, loosened and frayed. This breakdown process is completely normal and is expected during physical activity. Now, muscle repair and muscle growth through proper nutrition comes into play. Essential amino acids (that your body needs to get through food) like lysine, isoleucine, leucine, are needed for protein synthesis and muscle rebuilding. Muscle recovery through protein is next up at bat, waiting to help soothe and heal the body post exercise.
The body looks for dietary protein sources through proper food choices to help deliver the building blocks of healthy and strong muscle repair. Protein can be found in animal products, whole grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, protein powders, or even in the plant protein. In fact after your exercise, you should look for at least 15 grams of protein to help replenish your body which is ideal for post-workout recovery and to facilitate muscle repair and regrowth. Some folks may opt for even more protein after their workout regimen depending on their age, body mass, and individual nutrition and performance goals. Isn’t sports nutrition fascinating?! I think so too!
As you can see, your path towards having a rockin’ exercise session is to get some solid pre-workout energy through mostly carbohydrates and then hit the protein for some post-workout recovery. This combination is the key to successful exercise and gym nutrition. Sometimes people find this feat difficult so they often rely on convenient, on-the-go and ready-to-eat nutrition bars. Luckily, pre-workout energy bars and post-workout protein bars are there to support these exact goals and it’s up to you to find out which bars are best to integrate into your lifestyle.
The Balance of Nutrition: Sustained Stamina and Muscle Repair with Kate's Real Food
Kate’s Real Food energy bars have become a favorite energy bar for athletes and even amongst non-athletes alike. That’s because energy bars that are filled with natural energy sources, like oats, honey, dried fruit, brown rice crisps, certainly can set the stage for peak workout performance. Those ingredients are readily digested and allow the body to fire away its energy at an efficient speed, which is especially essential during a workout. Energy bar ingredients should be filled with only ingredients that are recognizable and easy to pronounce, just like Kate’s Real Food energy bars.
Decoding Ingredients: What Makes the Perfect Fitness Bar?
Some bars don’t just stop at the energy they provide. An ideal energy bar is also able to strike the balance in the protein and muscle recovery department as well. Look for a bar that is able to provide a solid amount of protein coming from ingredients like nuts, seeds and oats. This is not only imperative for blood sugar stabilization but also in allowing the body to stay satiated. If you are looking to further up the protein to align more with your workout regime or specific athlete diet, protein bars can help further support these goals. Ideally you want to find a bar that contains at least 15g of plant based protein which will take your muscle repair, recovery and protein-rich diet to the next level. A bar with this much protein is a great gym snack to throw into your bag and eat before you tackle your next activity. Plant protein combined with the natural energy sources, like dried fruit, oats and honey, are ideal for those looking to get the most protein bar benefits and maximize their fitness and overall health.
Maintaining sports nutrition can be challenging, particularly when trying to achieve a balance between natural energy provision and muscle recovery. A good strategy is to have a small snack before your workout for an energy boost, followed by a more substantial snack afterwards to aid in muscle recovery. This approach can help you find the right balance for both your body's needs and overall health. It's a good idea to keep some nutritious snacks readily available in your backpack or car. This way, you can easily support your energy and muscle recovery needs, regardless of where you are in your fitness or health journey.