I’d choose neither, but this article by New York Times’ Gina Kolata takes on the facts and fictions of post-workout carbohydrate and protein replenishment. The elite athletes/doctors (talk about overachievers) say that after a long endurance workout, they choose real food over the energy bars and drinks. When you break down the biomechanics of the post-exercise recovery, studies are vague on what your body actually needs.
They article states that only high-level endurance athletes (those who workout twice a day … the professionals) will benefit from specific, high protein and high carb meals in bar form. The rest of us just need real food. A bagel, some eggs, some meat.
Sure, I get that. But here’s the thing. Some of those laboratory-hatched energy bars actually taste good! Since I am not a high-level endurance athlete, I’m not wholly concerned about being 100% prepared for my next run. I think about it, of course, but my paycheck is not riding on it. So at the end of a 3 or 4 hour run, I might forgo the bagel for a Carrot Cake Clif bar or a Chocolate Cherry Lara Bar. Why? Not because I am banking on it allowing me to push through mile repeats the next day. I’m eating it because, like or not, I want a reward for going 18 miles on a Sunday morning. It tastes good!
Flickr photo by larkspurlazuli