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This article appeared in the West Australian newspaper, Mind & Body lift out on May 11 2010.
There are a myriad of ‘sports foods’ that are marketed to athletes, not only from health food stores but from your local supermarket. There are offerings of everything from bars and gels to drinks and meal replacements. Such products can be very useful, but are not always worth the expense.
Bars, gels and meal replacements can provide a compact, portable, high energy snack that is a convenient source of carbohydrate, protein and micronutrients. They are mainly useful for:
Unfortunately, these products are usually low in fibre and are more expensive than whole foods. The dense energy form can lead to over-consumption of kilojoules and unwanted weight gain if not used correctly. These products should not be used as a general snack but are suited to specific exercise and sporting conditions.
Sports drinks are also labeled as sports foods. There are certainly benefits from consuming sports drinks to complement water intake before, during and after exercise. In addition to replacing body fluids, they provide extra carbohydrates for energy, plus electrolytes to replace those lost in sweat. They are especially useful on hot and humid days or for longer events like the Run for a Reason.
Sports foods are convenient for athletes with a busy lifestyle, however they can be overused as a food replacement and can burn a hole in the purse too. Nutritious whole foods should always be considered as the first option for meals and snacks. Here are some cheaper alternatives and some that you can make yourself.
Sports Food Alternatives