Take these two popular bar brands for example:
Fudge Graham Zone Perfect Nutrition Bar
Ingredients: soy protein nuggets (isolated soy protein, tapioca starch, salt), chocolate flavored coating (sugar, fractionated palm kernel and palm oils, cocoa [processed with alkali], nonfat dry milk, sorbitan monostearate, soy lecithin, natural vanilla flavor), corn syrup, milk chocolate drops (sugar, whole milk powder, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin, natural vanilla flavor), marshmallow pieces (sugar, corn starch, fructose, soybean oil, corn syrup solids, natural flavors, salt, soy lecithin), fructooligosaccharides, milk protein isolate, high oleic sunflower or high oleic safflower oil, glycerine. Less than 2 percent of the following: fructose, natural flavor, calcium phosphate, water, xanthan gum, soy lecithin, and vitamin and mineral blend (calcium phosphate, ascorbic acid [vitamin C], d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate [vitamin E], magnesium oxide, niacinamide [vitamin B3], zinc oxide, calcium pantothenate [vitamin B5], ferrous fumarate [iron], pyridoxine hydrochloride [vitamin B6], vitamin A palmitate, riboflavin [vitamin B2], thiamine mononitrate [vitamin B1], folic acid [vitamin B9], chromium chloride, biotin [vitamin B7], sodium selenite, sodium molybdate, cyanocobalamin [vitamin B12]).
Peanut Butter Cookie Lara Bar
Ingredients: Dates, peanuts, sea salt.
Which nutrition bar would you rather eat? Be selective; take time to read labels and understand what you're buying and eating.
Be Leary of Liquids
Whether it's fruit juices, sports drinks or soft drinks, many beverages are loaded with sugar and have very little nutritional value. Always choose whole fruit over juice. When buying juice, search for options without additional sugar.
Another good strategy is to mix fruit juice with water or club soda. This flavors the drink without adding additional calories.
Try to avoid sports drinks and soda; they offer very little nutritional value.
Good drink choices: water, coconut water, fresh-squeezed orange juice, R.W. Knudsen Family juices.
More: DIY Sports Drinks
Make It Yourself
When you prepare your own food, you control the ingredients and the portions. Search the web for healthy, easy-to-prepare meals and snacks. Minimize the ingredients, use whole foods, and get creative. I really like the Feed Zone Cookbook for balanced snack and meal ideas.
Make this spring count by evaluating your diet and making positive changes. Out with the old and in with the new. You can do this—choose whole food sources and avoid processed, packaged products. Consult a dietician if you need additional nutrition or healthy-eating advice.
Perfect your nutrition to boost your performance. Sign up for a race near you.