You need food and hydration to fuel your body and achieve peak performance when doing outdoor activities like cycling, running, hiking, and swimming.
The best way to fuel your body would be to consume energy foods and energy drinks. These have numerous advantages: easy digestibility, a long shelf life, and they are also easy to bring.
Here are the things that you need to look for in an energy food or drink
- Exact time to take energy foods and drinks: Be careful, as there are certain items which are designed to be consumed before, after or during the activity itself. Make sure you read the label correctly before buying.
- Nutrition: When choosing the food and drink of your choice. You need to look at its nutritional contents. Look at the back of the product. Make sure you choose an item that has low fats, low carbs, and high protein.
- Features of energy food and drink: There are various options like non-GMO foods, gluten-free foods, organic foods, etc.
- Various Energy drinks and foods: You can choose from bites, jells, bars, chews, recovery drinks and sports drinks.
The Various Types of Energy Foods and Drinks
- Bars: Bars are high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat. There are lots of bars to choose from and they come in all shapes and colors. It is recommended that you consume energy bars before or after endurance activities. The high-grade crabs in bars help replenish glycogen in muscles. And some energy bars can even be used as substitutes for real meals.
- Foods and Drinks Taken during Workout: For sustained energy during exercise, it is good to introduce some protein and fat into your diet.
- After Workout Foods and Drinks: These energy foods can help your body rebuild muscles and tissues. It is also recommended that you drink lots of water or lots of liquids after eating post workout foods.
When Should You Consume Energy Foods and Drinks?
REI reports that energy foods and drinks can fine-tune your nutrition intake. REI also reports that energy foods and drinks are engineered to enhance each stage of outdoor excursion or workout.
- Before Activity: These energy foods and drinks provide an elevated and consistent energy level, they are formulated to give you the necessary energy and nutrients to perform in peak condition. These energy foods are made from a balanced mix of proteins, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Additionally, they should be consumed minutes before the start of an exercise routine.
- During Activity: These foods and drinks are designed for easy digestion and absorption. They are designed to give you energy while running, cycling, climbing, etc.
- After Activity: These foods and drinks are fortified with amino acids, proteins and other muscle restoring elements. They are mostly used for recovery and they can also speed up muscle growth and muscle synthesis. These foods usually have a lot of amino acids and a lot of protein.
Some Notable Features of Energy Drinks that you should look out for
- Gluten Free: Found in some grains including rye, wheat, and barley these products are a mixture of protein and they contain zero gluten.
- Vegetarian: These products might contain eggs, milk, and honey. Just like the name implies, products with these labels don’t have meat in them.
- Vegan: This is similar to the label above but this time it has zero animal products in it. That means no eggs and no milk. It’s 100% animal free.
- Organic: Organic foods aren’t 100% organic though. The law states that at least 70 percent of its ingredients must be organic for it to be labeled as organic. So “organic” products might contain artificial ingredients.
- Non-GMO: These products don’t contain any GMO foods. It also means that you’re taking in unaltered and all-natural ingredients as well.
- Energy Bites and Chews: They provide the same function as an energy gel. It is recommended that you take a few sips of water after chewing down bites and chews. You might suffer from indigestion if you fail to follow this advice.
- Energy Gels: Small and portable energy packs that you can use to refuel and rehydrate.
- Drink Mixes: A concentrated mix of energy. Be careful, it is essential that you limit your intake to 60 grams per hour. Too much intake may lead to stomach problems.
Some miscellaneous facts on energy foods and drinks
Understanding the basics of nutrition is beneficial for your long-lasting health. Consider the following.
- Carbohydrates: 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour is the ideal intake. Eating and drinking more than this may upset your stomach.
- Calories: 200 to 300 calories per hour is considered as a good ballpark figure. Luckily for you, most gels, bites, energy bars and drinks have this standard.
- Fat: Relatively, energy foods are low in fats. However, some meal replacement bars designed for endurance athletes might contain more fat than needed.
- Protein: This is one of the key components for muscle building. It is essential for rebuilding tissues.
- Potassium: Considered to be one of the main components of electrolytes. Ingredients like potassium citrate are essential for metabolizing carbohydrates which ultimately leads to the proper functioning of muscles. Potassium also keeps you hydrated
- Vitamins and Minerals: Overall, energy bars have the highest number of minerals and vitamins which your body naturally burns through exercise and activity.
- Sodium: Just like potassium, sodium is essential in metabolizing carbohydrates for the proper functioning of muscles. It also keeps you hydrated.
- Sweeteners: Some performance beverages, chews and gels like Stevia, honey, agave. Do not use sugar as a calorie sweetener. Natural sweeteners are ok, but sugar and other artificial sweeteners may damage your health in the long run.
- Amino Acid Blends: It’s basically a blend of proteins. Proteins like valine, leucine, and isoleucine are added to gels which are further broken down by the body after consumption.
- Caffeine: It gives you an energy boost. Caffeine is present in most energy bars, chews, jells, and drinks. In fact, it’s rare to find an energy with that doesn’t have caffeine.