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Honey Stinger Strawberry Organic Waffles

I would not normally write a review for a nutritional product just because the company that makes it came out with a new flavor. However, I am going to make an exception because the new Honey Stinger Strawberry Waffles are simply awesome.

Honey Stinger Strawberry Organic Waffles

Honey Stinger Strawberry Organic Waffles

I’ve taken Honey Stinger Waffles with me on nearly every bike ride I’ve taken this year and can’t imagine cycling without them. Honey Stinger introduced their original honey flavored waffles a little over a year ago and they instantly became my favorite source of carbs on bike rides. Earlier this year they came out with a vanilla waffle, and more recently they started selling the strawberry waffles. To call these waffles addictive would be a gross understatement.

Each one-ounce strawberry waffle has 160 calories, 21 grams of carbohydrates, and 7 grams of fat. Two packages of waffles take up about the same amount of room in your jersey pocket as a single Clif Bar.

These waffles contain 100% USDA Certified Organic Ingredients and are also certified Kosher. If you are interested in the ingredients list, here it is: organic wheat flour, organic palm fruit oil, organic rice syrup, organic cane sugar, organic whole wheat flour, organic soy flour, sea salt, natural flavor, organic soy lecithin, organic spices, and baking soda.

As the outside temperature drops these waffles become brittle. The best way to keep the waffles soft is to put them in a jersey pocket under your cycling jacket. When the temperature drops to below 20 degrees (which is most of the time in the winter) I put these waffles in my jacket pocket along with a chemical hand warmer. These waffles taste great at room temperature, but when you are riding on a snowy day and pull one out of your jacket that has been warmed up, well, you have a treat fit for a king!

Honey Stinger Waffles are available at Amazon.com for around $26 for a pack of 16 (that’s about $1.62 per waffle). I have noticed that a lot of bike shops have started selling these waffles as well, but buying them by the box will save you a lot of money.

 

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Clif Bar Seasonal Flavors Are Back!

One of the greatest things about fall is the arrival of seasonal Clif Bars. For the past few weeks every time my wife went to the grocery store she looked for the seasonal Clif Bars and last week they finally arrived! In addition to Spiced Pumpkin Pie and Iced Gingerbread, this year Clif introduced the new Peppermint Stick flavored bars. If you want to try these delicious bars you had better hurry because they are only available until the end of December (or until they run out).

Clif Bar Seasonal Flavors

Clif Bar Seasonal Flavors

I have been an avid consumer of Clif Bars for nearly ten years. During my first year of cycling I tried to eat PowerBar Energy Gels on my rides, but those things always tasted like a high school chemistry experiment gone bad. The first time I tried a Clif Bar was the day I quit buying anything from PowerBar.

Clif Bars come is sixteen regular flavors plus the three seasonal flavors. The Iced Gingerbread is my favorite seasonal flavor and the Black Cherry Almond is my favorite during the rest of the year. Each bar has between 230 and 250 calories and they average around 44 grams of carbohydrates and 10 grams of protein each. And, if you are interested, Clif Bars are also Kosher and vegan approved.

Clif Bars are made with 70% organic ingredients. However, I am more impressed by what they do not contain. Clif Bars are made without high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, or artificial flavors, sweeteners and preservatives.

I am not going to try to list the ingredients in every flavor of Clif Bar, but I think you can get a general idea by looking at the ingredient list for the Iced Gingerbread Clif Bar: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, ClifPro (Soy Rice Crisps [Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Barley Malt Extract], Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour), Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Toasted Oats (Organic Oats, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice), Organic Molasses, Soy White Chocolate (Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Cocoa Butter, Soy Flour, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavors), Safflower Oil Roasted Pecans, ClifCrunch (Organic Oat Fiber, Inulin [Chicory Extract], Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Oat Bran, Psyllium), Crystallized Ginger (Ginger, Cane Sugar), Organic Soy Butter, Organic Raisins, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Ginger, Cinnamon, and Spices.

Clif Bars retail for around $1.50 at the grocery stores in my area, and they are cheaper if you buy them in a 12 pack. The best I can tell, fresh-baked Clif Bars have about a nine month shelf life. The grocery store where we shop has a high turnover rate on their Clif Bars, so I have never had a stale bar. However, Amazon.com has a terrible reputation for sending out expired or short-dated Clif Bars, so I think you would be better off finding them from a local store than buying them online.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Product Reviews, Sports Nutrition

 

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Low-Fat Chocolate Milk As A Sports Recovery Drink For Cyclists

Oberweis Low Fat Chocolate Milk

Oberweis Low Fat Chocolate Milk

This past summer it seemed like every sports magazine or nutrition blog carried an article about using low-fat chocolate milk as a sports recovery drink. The articles were based upon several recent studies, including one from the University of Connecticut’s Department of Nutritional Sciences and two from the University of Texas at Austin. The University of Texas study was the most interesting since it dealt specifically with cyclists. The bottom line for cyclists is that if you drink a 16-ounce glass of low-fat chocolate milk within 30 minutes after a strenuous ride your muscles will recover faster, you will build more muscle and shave off more fat during training.

For distance cyclists finding something that will speed up recovery time is like finding the Holy Grail. I am 52-years old and the last time I drank chocolate milk was in high school, however, after reading the aforementioned studies I decided to give chocolate milk another try. The only part of the studies that made me hesitate a bit was the emphasis on low-fat chocolate milk. When I hear the phrase “low-fat milk” I immediately think of something like “milk-flavored water.”

My first three attempts at finding a good brand of low-fat chocolate milk were not successful since all I could find were bottles of 2% or 1% low-fat. Even a bottle of 1% low-fat milk has far too many calories from fat for me to even consider drinking. I was finally able to find a fantastic product at a local dairy store that suited my needs perfectly: Oberweis Low Fat Chocolate Milk. I believe this product is only available in Oberweis retail stores, but it is certainly worth the effort it might take to find one (sorry, but they seem to only have stores in the upper Midwest).

In addition to great tasting chocolate milk, here is what you get in a 16-ounce glass: 180 calories, 450mg of sodium, 16g of protein, 26g of carbohydrates, and a boatload of vitamin D and calcium. This product has no added sugar. To avoid selling milk that reminds you of water, Oberweis adds carrageenan to this product (carrageenan is a vegetarian alternative to gelatin). I don’t know if you will ever find a low-fat chocolate milk as good as Oberweis at your local dairy, but you owe it to yourself to try to find out! I also realize that my personal experience with using low-fat chocolate milk as a recovery drink is highly subjective, but it really does seem that I am able to recover after a long ride faster since I switched from protein bars to chocolate milk (though I still use the protein bars when I forget to stop at the dairy).

 

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2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel

Hopefully you’ve gotten the word by now that on long rides you need to consume protein in addition to carbohydrates if you want to avoid muscle and brain fatigue (better known to cyclists as bonking). To paraphrase a familiar verse of the Bible, “Cyclists do not live by carbohydrates alone.” One of the easiest ways to get the needed protein is to buy a carbohydrate gel with protein already in it (or make you own gel for use in a HomeGOO flask). Unfortunately, most energy gels that include protein taste rather dreadful. PacificHealth Laboratories (the creators of Accelerade) recently introduced 2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel and it not only tastes great, but has carbohydrates, electrolytes, proteins, caffeine and antioxidants.

2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel

2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel

Last month I purchased a box (an 8 pack) of 2nd Surge and have used the gel on some of my longer bike rides. I was hooked when I tried the first package! The chocolate gel is very smooth and has a rich chocolate flavor. Most of the other chocolate gels I’ve tried over the years tasted like artificial chocolate, but 2nd Surge is the real deal. Each package of 2nd Surge has 90 calories and includes 18g of carbohydrate, 3g of protein and 100mg of caffeine.

2nd Surge is an all-natural energy gel. I hate giving a long list of ingredients in a product review, but the ingredient list in 2nd Surge is rather impressive. The ingredients include: Agave Syrup, Brown Rice Syrup, Evaporated Cane Sugar, Water, Whey Protein Isolate, Glycerin, Pea Protein Isolate, Cocoa, Natural Flavors, Green Tea Extract, d-alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Salt, Grape, Pomegranate, Mangosteen, Goji Berry, Blueberry, Chokeberry, Cranberry, Apple and Bilberry Extracts.

At the moment this product is only available in two flavors: Chocolate and Double Expresso. I loved the chocolate gel and have already ordered another box. For the record, I did not try the Double Expresso, mainly because I have never been a fan of any food product that has the word expresso (or espresso) in the title. I hope PacificHealth Laboratories adds a few new flavors before long.

A box of eight packages of 2nd Surge retails for $16 and is available on the PacificHealth Laboratories Website. The best price online I’ve been able to find is at Performance Bike—they have it listed at $13 a box.  However, if you “Like” the PacificHealth Laboratories Facebook page you can get a 20% discount on your next order (I don’t know how long this offer is going to last).

 

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Gatorade G Series Fit 01 Prime Pre-Workout Fuel Energy Bites

If you began cycling more than just a few weeks ago you have already figured out that you need to “top off the tank” or “fuel up” before you ride. If you go out for a long ride on an empty stomach you are going to use up all of your energy reserves before you hit the 20th mile. One of the many commercially prepared products to help you get a good start is the Gatorade G Series Fit 01 Prime Pre-Workout Fuel Energy Bites. These energy bites are available in three flavors: Banana Nut Chocolate, Cranberry-Pistachio, and Raisin-Cinnamon Flax.

Gatorade G Series Fit 01 Prime Pre-Workout Fuel Energy Bites

Gatorade G Series Fit 01 Prime Pre-Workout Fuel Energy Bites

I recently bought a package of the Banana Nut Chocolate flavored energy bites and this review is based upon this flavor alone. Inside the package are four small bites, each wrapped in a separate sealed tub. The recommended serving size is four bites (the entire package) and one serving has 230 calories. The ingredient list is not too bad: almonds, peanuts, invert syrup, freeze dried bananas, oat flour, whey protein isolate, glycerin, semisweet chocolate chips, water potato starch, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, natural flavor, citric acid, sodium chloride, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, natural mixed tocopherols, and palm oil.

The good news is that these energy bites contain 31 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein, 65mg of sodium and 220mg of potassium per serving. The bad news is they taste like sawdust. Our family used to go camping and I always took a package of fire starter blocks to start a camp fire. The Gatorade Energy Bites look a lot like those fire starter blocks, but the Gatorade bites are drier and have less flavor. These energy bites are horrible! If you eat these bites before a race you might not win the Ironman competition, but you will get the “Iron Stomach” award. The Gatorade Energy Bites have an expiration date and the package I tried still had two months to go before expiration. After I took the first bite I checked the expiration date again just to make sure I had the correct year.

The Gatorade Energy Bites sell for around $3 a package, which about $2.80 more than they are worth.

 

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HomeGOO Flexible Reusable GOO Flask

Distance cycling and other endurance sports burn large amounts of carbohydrates, and for most of us that means ingesting a lot of carbohydrate gels or blocks. Prepackaged carbohydrate gels are manufactured by several companies and I actually enjoy several different brands (like Clif and Honey Stinger), but most gels contain a lot of chemicals that I try to avoid. Until recently I had never considered making my own carbohydrate gel, but when Brian Dinkins, president of HomeGOO, sent me a couple of goo flasks I decided to give it a shot.

HomeGOO Flexible Reusable GOO Flask

HomeGOO Flexible Reusable GOO Flasks

HomeGOO sells two different reusable flasks. The five-ounce Goo Flask is a 5.5 inch tall BPA free plastic container with a leak proof, push-pull valve. The flexible six-ounce Goo Flask is made from ultra-lightweight BPA free plastic and collapses as you consume the gel. It also has a push/pull drink spout with removable cap, though the cap really isn’t necessary. These bottles are easy to wash by hand and are dishwasher safe.

A small tag on each bottle has a great recipe for making your own carbohydrate gel. The recipe calls for four ounces of raw honey, one tablespoon organic blackstrap molasses, 1/8 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, and one or two tablespoons of water. Honey is a perfect source of carbohydrates for cyclists since it has both fructose and sucrose and provides a “slow and steady” release of energy. In case you are unaware, raw honey is not the same thing as the filtered and pasteurized honey that comes in a plastic bear-shaped container at the grocery store (for more information see “What Is Raw Honey?”). Blackstrap molasses not only adds flavor to this recipe, but is a good source of potassium as well. I have found that using warm water when making this recipe helps the ingredients mix smoothly.

In my area of the country raw honey sells for around fifty cents an ounce, which is about half the price of prepackaged gels. In addition, raw honey has nearly twice as many calories per ounce as prepackaged gels, so you will not need as much of it to get the same effect. As an added benefit, homemade gels are all organic and contain no artificial ingredients. Because homemade gels are made of honey and molasses they never have to be refrigerated and they won’t go bad while sitting on the shelf. Whatever you don’t use on one ride can be saved for the next without any problem.

Now let’s go back to the HomeGOO flasks. I’ve used prepackaged carbohydrate gels for about 10 years and wasn’t sure how using a flask would work out. On the first ride I realized these flasks are fantastic! You can pop open the valve with your thumb and get a quick shot of the gel faster than with the prepackaged variety, then close the valve with your thumb and put it back in your jersey pocket. Among my many known weaknesses is the fact that I normally slow down a bit when I consume gels on my bike, but with the HomeGOO flask my cadence didn’t change a bit and I was able to keep one hand on the handlebar (and I didn’t have to use my teeth to open the flask!).

HomeGOO sells the five ounce flask for $3, which means that if you only used in one time you still saved money over the cost of buying prepackaged gels. The six-ounce flask sells for $9 and should last a very long time. If you are into endurance sports you owe it to yourself to try these flasks!

 

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Gatorade vs. Clif Shot Electrolyte Replacement Drink

About ten years ago I quit consuming any product that contained high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and as a result I had to give up products like Gatorade. Since I couldn’t drink Gatorade I started drinking Clif Shot Electrolyte Replacement Drink while cycling and was very happy with it. Last year Gatorade dropped the use of HFCS and is now sweetened with a sucrose-dextrose combination. Since Gatorade is a lot cheaper than the Clif Shot Electrolyte Drink I decided to do a little comparison shopping and thought you might like to know the results.

Gatorade vs. Clif Shot Electrolyte Replacement Drink

Gatorade vs. Clif Shot Electrolyte Replacement Drink

In this post I am going to compare Gatorade powder mix (not the far more expensive bottles) against Clif Shot Electrolyte powder. Since I do not work in a laboratory I am going to have to round off a few numbers, but I think I’ll be close enough for you to draw some reasonable conclusions on your own. Gatorade powder sells for $4 for an 18.4-ounce tub and will make about thirteen 20-ounce bottles. Clif Shot Electrolyte powder comes in 2-pound containers and will make about fourteen 20-ounce bottles.

A 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade has 130 calories and 34 grams of carbohydrates. Each bottle also has 270mg of sodium and 80mg of potassium. When made from powder Gatorade costs only .31¢ for a 20-ounce bottle.

A 20-ounce bottle of Clif Shot Electrolyte has 260 calories and 62 grams of carbohydrates. Each bottle also has 650mg of sodium and 162mg of potassium. The cost for this 20-ounce bottle is $1.57.

Aside from the differences in price, there are a couple other things to consider. Every cyclist is different, but based upon my size and average speed I burn around 1050 calories an hour while riding and I like to consume between 250 and 300 calories per hour. If I drink a 20-ounce bottle of Clif Shot Electrolyte every hour while cycling I would not need to consume anything else to meet my needed intake of calories. This is not a bad thing, but I like to consume a bit of food while on the bike. However, on days when the heat index is over 100 I don’t usually feel like eating anyway and the extra sodium and potassium in Clif Shot Electrolyte is really needed.

In my opinion Gatorade and Clif Shot Electrolyte taste a lot alike. In fact, I don’t think I could tell the difference between them in a blind taste test. I like both of these products (and both companies) so I will probably continue to use both of them.

 

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