We all know that there are plenty of benefits to having a snack on hand while on long bike rides, hikes, or runs. It’s absolutely vital to keep up your energy levels so you can maintain your performance and be able to finish your outdoor adventure.
The key to avoiding a drop in energy is food, but not just any food. You need nourishment that is a natural source of energy and rich in protein, which most pre-packaged or processed food do not offer.
An energy bar can give you a sugar boost and make you feel better, but that feeling doesn’t last long, and you can end up feeling worse a while later when your blood sugar comes crashing down. It’s important that you pay attention to what you are eating, and eat as many natural ingredients as you can.
Luckily, there are several ways where you can stay healthy and make yourself energized, without ingesting a lot of chemicals. Read on for some of our food options below.
Real food alternatives
Contrary to the claims of energy bar manufacturers, eating an energy bar won’t enhance your performance more than any other food, and they don’t have to be a necessary part of an outdoor activity.
If you start to rely too much on processed foods, you could be missing out on nutrients that are vital to your overall health. When you energize your body with real foods, you will not only get a whole assortment of essential nutrients, but it also tastes better, and its easier on your wallet. While you do need some advanced planning, your body will thank you in the end.
Some ideas for portable snacks include:
- Homemade energy balls
- Cheese sticks
- Trail mix – you can make your own with nuts, dried fruits, and shredded coconut
- Beef jerky
- Chopped vegetables such as celery or carrots with hummus
- Nut butters
- Smoked salmon
What to look for in energy bars
As much as you want to avoid relying solely on energy bars, sometimes they are the most accessible option as they are a convenient source of calories. Look for energy bars that are high in:
- Whole grains: A common ingredient in energy bars is oats, and they are an excellent source of fiber and healthy carbohydrates.
- Seeds and nuts: Seeds and nuts are good sources of fat, fiber, and protein. If the fat content from the energy bar comes mostly from nuts, don’t be alarmed, it’s still a good option.
- Dried fruit: Fruit is a natural sweetener which is full of vitamins and minerals.
Avoid energy bars with these ingredients:
- Sugar: Unfortunately, sugar is found in most bars, often hiding under the name high fructose corn syrup. Look for bars that have been sweetened with raisins or dates instead.
- Partially-hydrogenated oils: These oils are basically just trans-fats which is the most dangerous type of fat.
- Artificial ingredients: Look out for artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors. Something else to be on the lookout for is protein isolate, as it is heavily processed.
Everything is fine in moderation, just try and stick to natural foods when possible, and in a pinch, bars with more natural and wholesome ingredients.