I am not a health-focused eater. I am health-conscious, but not health-focused.
Feels good to get that off my chest. The truth shall set you free.
That’s not to say that I don’t try to stick to healthy options when they’re presented, but if I’m choosing between a bowl of oatmeal and sneaking a bowl of my kids’ sugar cereal in the morning, then the Froot Loops better be nervous.
Also, I’ve never really subscribed to any particular style of diet like vegan, or gluten-free, or vegetarian. Always like to keep my bacon options open.
I am, however, constantly searching for new or better ways to fuel for training. Long runs, long rides, etc. I used to bring along a Balance Bar for any run of at least 14 miles, and would eat the bar around mile 10. Worked great for a while, but after enough long runs I got to the point where I couldn’t stand the sight of Balance Bars. They never messed with my stomach, but I just couldn't bear trying to force another one down my throat. Since then I’ve gone through a variety of options, most recently settling on Marathon bars.
I don’t typically struggle with any stomach issues when training, which is ironic since my stomach can be very touchy any time I’m doing anything but training, but my stomach trainwreck during my last marathon has left me a bit gun-shy when it comes to fueling. When the good folks at PureFit offered to let me try out their nutrition bars I figured I’d give it a shot. Perhaps they were the magic fuel for which I had been searching.
They sent along 5 flavors to try, all of which sounded promising: Chocolate Brownie, Almond Crunch, Berry Almond Crunch, Granola Crunch, and Peanut Butter Crunch. Whole lotta crunchin’ going on.
When they say all-natural they aren’t kidding. These things are gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, vegan, and kosher. Basically all the things that I am not. I was mildly afraid that my body might freeze-up completely from the shock of so much healthy. Perhaps these bars could finally erase the recent nutritional armageddon commonly referred to as the Christmas holiday season.
I started with the Peanut Butter Crunch flavor, eating half a bar about 30 minutes before a morning 6-mile run. Half to say it was actually pretty good – admittedly much better than I expected. With all the ‘free’ labels it wasn’t exactly packed with flavor, but for someone looking for a seriously healthy fueling option, this is not a bad way to go. I had no stomach issues on the run, and ate the other half once I finished running before moving back to my regularly scheduled questionable eating habits the rest of the day. Each bar packs 18g of Protein, so it’s a nice recovery option as well as a fueling option. Here’s the full nutrition info for the Almond Crunch flavor:
Over the course of the next couple weeks I went through all the bars, highlighted by eating one at the 15-mile mark of a 30-mile bike ride, and eating another at the 10-mile mark of a 14-mile run. I didn’t find any of them to have a great deal of flavor, but that wasn’t a big consideration for me, as long as they didn’t taste like I was eating my shoe. If I had to pick a favorite I’d go with Almond Crunch. My least favorite, in terms of expectations based on the named flavor would be Chocolate Brownie. It didn’t taste bad, but I’ve known a lot of Chocolate Brownies in my day, and there wasn’t a lot of Chocolate or Brownie going on with that bar. Admittedly I ate that one at mile 15 of the 30-mile ride, and not even Willy Wonka could have picked out something that would have made me happy at that particular moment. I’ve got a long way to go before anyone will confuse me with a cyclist.
Bottom line - these seem like a highly healthy and stomach-friendly option for fueling before, during, or after training. One thing to consider is that they are all pretty dry, so it's a good idea to have some water along to wash them down if you're eating while training. I find that to be true of most any of the nutrition bars I've tried while running, so that's not unique to PureFit. Hopefully my body hasn't gotten too used to this healthy-eating. May need to give it a shock to snap it back to reality. Is that Taco Bell I smell?