I had a long conversation this week with my training partner explaining my reluctance to use protein powder. For many athletes, it’s unthinkable to go without a post-workout smoothie fortified with their preferred protein powder. There are plenty of studies showing importance of replenishing the body with a fine-tuned concoction of carbohydrates and protein, served up conveniently in a drink bottle. Visit the kitchen of any athletes and you’re likely to find a cabinet stuffed with economy size tubs of powder supplements of all kinds. There are blends for pre workout, during workout, post workout, first thing in the morning, last thing before bed. It is a routine that I cannot get on board.
What bothers me about these supplements go beyond their artificial and highly processed content. I hate the utilitarian aspect of ingesting strange potions for the sake of health and performance. If eating is a sliding scale between feeding and enjoyment, sports drink and supplement sit firmly at the feeding end. I do not get the satisfaction of tasting, smelling, and feeling of real food. Instead, it is gulping down liquid calories with promises of a better me. Thanks but no thanks.
Actually, I am not a fan of liquid calories in general. I only take milk with my brewed coffee, my tea steeped, and my water plain. Alcohol, juice, and sugary drinks are not tempting. Shakes and smoothies are dessert to me. I understand the convenience of protein powder and various sports supplement especially for athletes who are not keen on cooking and eating. I see that replenishing nutrients on the go can be challenging. However, I enjoy food too much to waste my daily caloric intake on drinks that I don’t even like.
Mind you, I have the advantage of living within two minutes walk from my gym and said gym is located inside a grocery store. That means I am never far away from food that I prepared or whole foods, before or after training. One of my favourite things is homemade energy chews. This morning I made a dozen of these Date Coco-Coconut Chews and it took less than 30 minutes from start to clean up.
The recipe is an adaptation from Patty’s Food. A mixture of medjool dates, sliced almonds, shredded coconut, cocoa powder, coconut oil, ras el hanout, and salt were blasted to crumbly bits in the food processor. I portioned with a cookie scoop and squeezed the mixture into bite-size orbs before rolling in more coconut. I chose to flavour them with 1/2 teaspoon of ras el hanout for an exotic spicy kick but using smoke paprika, curry powder, or chipotle with cinnamon would be awesome too. These vegan and gluten free bites are much more in line with what I like to eat before or after workout. I remain skeptical about the performance benefits of sports supplement given the large variety of food I eat throughout the day.
Do you have any favourite whole food workout snacks?