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Random February food and nutrition post

I was listening to an interview recently from the Triathlon Business International conference with someone who is doing market studies, and it came up that triathletes are the biggest consumers. Of everything. Gear, apparel, nutrition. Like Jesse Thomas said recently: « Thousands of dollars to be 5 seconds faster in my 14h race? Worth it. »

As many know, my biggest concern during a race is nutrition. I practice my nutrition on every workout, fiddle with it so I’m better prepared for races. As a result, I consume a lot of gels, protein bars, energy drinks and salt tablets. I had been ordering my favorite stuff from a large Canadian online store, but recently that store has been having issues (aka, we’re not yet bankrupt, but almost everything on our web site is out of stock and once everything is, we pull the plug). I could buy gels and bars at Running Room or La Cordée, but their prices were nowhere near as good as that online store, so I decided to start looking again into making my own food. Or least the bars – I don’t want to try my hand at gels and energy drinks yet. I might not be saving dollars in the end, but I’ll be able to custom make my own products and cut down on additives.

While I try to make a solid nutrition plan for races, I also want it to be tasty – while I understand the concepts of glycemic index for example, so far I have not prioritized it over taste and well being (as in, not throwing up during a hard run). That means that I will allow food with higher fat contents, something some triathletes will frown upon. Their loss. Nut butters are good.

So my first attempt at some energy bars came from the Global Cycling Network (GCN), a bunch of British dudes who make funny informative videos about cycling. They cover a large range of topics, including nutrition, and two recipes recently caught my eye: a banana bread (that I haven’t tried yet) and « flapjacks », a date / nuts / oats energy chewy bar.

First batch of flapjacks came up VERY oily. I realized that the Brits can’t convert mL to cups correctly which amounted to 50% increase in oil. Greasy. Yet still very tasty (although being that oily made them crumbly, and hard to carry or use during workouts. Made for nice desserts though)! Second batch came up much less oily, but I’m still having issues with the bars staying together – they crumble a lot. It might be the syrup I used – they call for golden syrup (I’ve seen corn syrup as an alternative), I used brown rice syrup. I will try another recipe I found that is similar but uses butter rather than oil – while it might not be as healthy, it will probably hold up together better.

Recipes: GCN Flapjacks recipe, Multi-seed Flapjacks recipe

Second item on the list was protein bars, or Clif bars clones.

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I followed the recipe to the letter, used Superbutter instead of peanut butter. They taste very good but they don’t hold as good as normal Clif bars. I am fairly sure it’s because Superbutter is more fluid than regular peanut butter. I will fiddle with the recipe, tempted to cook them for 15min to see if it gets them to stick together, but since I use those as recovery, I don’t need them to hold much as they aren’t likely to be moved around much (ie, they’ll be in a small container in the freezer until I eat them).

Recipe: Homemade Clif bars (and there are tons of other nice dessert recipes on that blog…)

Last item was a much simpler one: granola. I’m a huge fan of La Fourmi Bionique granola products, but I thought I’d try my hand at home made granola. Yummy. I made that one with raisins, almonds and dark chocolate chips.

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Easy, delicious and much less sweet than commercial products (yes, even the bio ones, they tend to add much more sugar than this recipe). You can add whatever you want. Took 30min to make, more or less.

Recipe: Basic granola recipe

Commercially, Clif just announced 4 new gel flavours: Banana/Mango/Coconut, Banana/Beet/Ginger and… Pizza Margherita… and… Sweet Potato and Sea Salt (last one being inspired by ultrarunners staple food). To be quite honest, I hope I can try the last two. It will make a nice difference from the overly sweet chocolate gels.

Finally, I solved a problem for all Canadian runners. Well, I’m probably the 2000th one to think about it, but I’ll be the first or third one to blog about it and reveal the solution to the world. How to not have frozen bottles during winter runs. Especially in 2015 – been pretty cold lately…

Get that hydration backpack that you haven’t been using for a year out of the closet. Put a t-shirt, then put the backpack, then put your base layer and your jacket. I ran 30k at -25C. Water was cold yet never came close to freezing. You will look like the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, and you will need to juggle with the tube around the collar of your jacket, but otherwise you get water for your whole run.

Final preparations for the race next week! Taper time!

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