When I first started running about the only sports supplement was Gatorade. However, as people realized that there was money to be made, the options expanded.
While things like sports bars provided a ready source of energy, they tended to be lacking in taste. For example, a bar might be sold as having peanut butter flavor. However, at best it tasted like the cardboard that jars of peanut butter were shipped in.
Over the years, the flavor of the sports foods improved and they reached the point that eating them was like gnawing on, for example, cardboard dipped in peanut butter. However, recent years have seen the arrival of sports foods that are actually very tasty. Perhaps even too tasty.
While I have had the PowerBars that are, in effect, candy bars, I was only recently exposed to actual sports candy. Florence went to a conference on exercise and brought back some samples including a gummi product by PowerBar as well as (I kid you not) Sports Beans made by the fine folks at Jelly Belly. The Sports Beans taste like normal Jelly Belly beans but are supposed to be more sporty.
On the one hand, I do like sports foods that taste good. I think I have gnawed on quite enough sports cardboard and don’t see any real virtue in sports food that does not taste very good.
On the other hand, it does seem a bit odd eating what amounts to candy as a “healthy” food for sports. One minor concern I have is that I know people eat these sports foods thinking that they are somehow better than candy. True, they are better than the usual junk food. However, it would be a mistake to think that because they are intended for sports use they are somehow not fattening. In fact, sports food tends to be rather high in calories-after all, they are generally intended to provide or replace energy and that means calories.
Interestingly enough, the sports “candy” is rather close to normal candy as the following will show.
Here is the information for a typical candy bar, the classic Hershey bar:
Hershey Bar (43g)
Fat: 13 g
Sat Fat: 8g
Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 0%
Here is the information for a “candy like” sports bar, specifically a PowerBar.
Power Bar Triple Threat Energy (55g)
Fat: 9 g
Sat Fat: 4.5g
Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 30%
On the face of it, the Power Bar seems to be better than the Hershey bar (in terms of carbs provided, etc). However, the Hershey bar is 43g to the Power Bar’s 55g. If the Hershey Bar is adjusted to 55g it looks a little better:
Hershey Bar (adjusted to 55g)
Fat: 17 g
Sat Fat: 10g
While the PowerBar has more protein, the “adjusted” Hershey bar as more carbohydrates. The Hershey bar is also cheaper than a PowerBar. As such, a Hershey bar could be seen as a viable “sports candy” in that it is rather close to the PowerBar in terms of what it provides. Interestingly enough, I’ve been eating Hershey bars with peanut butter after runs for years. I suspect that the result is about as good as eating a PowerBar. Of course, my preferred recovery drink is chocolate milk-so perhaps I just really like chocolate.
I do still eat PowerBars, but I would be interested in seeing a study conducted comparing PowerBars to Hershey bars as sports food.