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The Evil Behind Energy Foods


Many people turn to sports foods for fuel when exercising. Many of us also use them for energy boosts and meal replacements. Clever advertisements and packaging have led us to believe that these foods are full of great ingredients that help us lead healthy lives. But not so fast! Our resident nutritionist Theresa Albert shares the evil behind these energy snacks, and offers healthier alternatives.

Sports Drink

The Evil Behind Sports Drinks

Most sports drinks contain glucose/fructose blends that can spike blood sugars. The sugar in just one sports drink is often the same amount found in one can of soda. These drinks claim to be full of vitamins but any vitamins found are so minimal that we usually pee them all out. Therefore, they don’t factor into our overall health. In addition, most of these drinks contain food colouring and Health Canada actually allows some colours that are banned in other parts of the world. For instance, tartrazine, which is often found in red and yellow food colouring, has been shown to affect hyperactivity in brains.

Healthy Alternative

Instead of a sports drink, all you really need is to make a batch of fruity herbal tea and chill it. Add some agave, maple syrup or honey and pour into your own bottle. The sugar will give your muscles a boost while the salt will help to balance your electrolytes. It's a much healthier alternative, not to mention much cheaper!

Energy Gel

The Evil Behind Energy Gels

Most energy gels are just pure sugar and can cause digestive upset. Many also contain caffeine which can make your heart race, making exercise even more dangerous for those who are already dealing with heart conditions. These gels are designed to bring sugar directly to the blood stream, which also spikes insulin. You may think these gels help you, but they really just pump your body with sugar, making it more difficult to lose those extra pounds.

Healthy Alternative: Dates Energy Gel

Don't rely on processed gels to get you through a workout. A quick whiz of a few whole foods will do a better job and provide more minerals and anti-oxidants to help you recover. This recipe delivers 94 calories and trace amounts of good fats, fibre and protein to optimize the uptake of the sugar. Most people don't know that dates have the same amounts of sodium and potassium as a banana.

Power Bar

The Evil Behind Power Bars

The most important thing to note about power bars is they’re a highly processed food. We should avoid these fake foods because each processing step removes nutrients. These bars can also be very calorie dense. Some have the same caloric value as a bacon cheeseburger. Not to mention, anything coated in a chocolaty substance likely contains bad fats and is not a true health food.

Healthy Alternative

Replace highly processed power bars with equally convenient roasted soy nuts. A third of a cup contains about the same amount of protein, more fibre and more potassium than the average power bar. Add an apple or pear to round out the carbs. Eating real foods as opposed to a processed power bar will take you longer to eat and keep you fuller much longer. Also, the anti-oxidants will fuel your cells for anti-aging repair rather than the processed food's opposite effect.


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