Tag Archives: sports nutrition

Thursday lift, bike, run

shipping box

The first installment of my recent Amazon order arrived!

Yesterday’s schedule was a little hectic. Like usual. I’m a bit tired and think I’m getting near the point of overtraining. This is a problem for me because not only am I trying to get in cycling shape for next season, I’m also training for the Tucson Marathon in December. It’s not official yet; I haven’t signed up, but I’ve put it on my training schedule. So in addition to a full cycling training load, I’ve started a full running training load as well. At this point, a coach might step in and say ,”whoa!” you need to cut back a little. Unfortunately, I’m my own coach and one of the problems with being your own coach is that while you know your body the best, you’re not always 100% objective. So while I think I’m coming up on the point of overtraining, someone else might think I’ve already passed that point. The only thing to do is keep vigilant.

Switching to good news, I got a package in a huge box! If you can guess what’s inside I’ll give you a free Wald 215 rear rack. Okay, that’s one of the items that was in the package. The bad news is that it didn’t fit over the tires on my Giant Cypress hybrid bike. I was planning on using that to go grocery shopping, which is the only thing I use my car for at the moment. Then I can, temporarily, be car-free!I’ll need the car still to get to races, so I’ll technically be car-light, but I’m well on my way to getting rid of the car once and for all!

In terms of workouts, the last two days have kicked my butt! Thursday started before the butt crack of dawn, aka 5:00AM. For those of you who haven’t seen a sunrise in a while, I’ll remind you that it’s been so long since I’ve actually seen a sunrise that I don’t remember the last time I haven’t! I also usually go to be around 9PM so there is definitely a trade-off. No wild parties for me in a loooong time. But getting up that early on Thursday was not for training like it is most days. Nope, I needed to get to work and get a few last done before the weekly Tropical Group meeting. And get things done I did! Enough that I don’t think my advisor was annoyed at me this week. Woot!

UA rec center frong

University of Arizona Campus Rec Center. Photo courtesy M.Fitzsimmons at Wikimedia Commons.

But that meant I had to postpone all my training until after work. Ugh. I went straight from the meeting to the gym where I commenced what can only be described as a grueling workout. For an hour and a half I lifted heavy objects for no other purpose than to make me look good. Okay, that’s a side effect hopefully. The real effect should be to make me a better, stronger cyclist and runner. Leg curls, leg extensions, calf raises, squats, leg presses, crunches. I think that’s all, I don’t have my list in front of me right now. Plus a 10 minute warm-up and ten minute cool-down. Suffice to say, I was thankful to get out of there with all the top-heavy guys looking like they were going to topple over! Do some leg work for gods sake!

The training plan called for me to go directly from lifting to an hour and a half bike ride. Okey-dokey-pokey. I get to my bike locker, pull out the bike, and what do I find? A flat tire. Darn. 20 minutes later as I inspect the tire pre-ride I notice that the tire is not seated all the way in the grooves. For about 1/2 an inch it’s just sitting on the edge. Oh crap. It would have been fine to limp home on it like that, but I wasn’t taking any chances. Deflate the tire, seat it properly, and since I don’t want to waste another CO2 canister, walk over to FairWheel Bikes and use their floor pump. There’s another 20 minutes gone by. While I’m there, I notice I’m getting hungry already. So I grab a Caffe Latte flavored Hammer Perpetuem As I’m paying for it, I notice the Julie Bars sitting by the register. They’re in a nice location so I make my second impulse buy in as many minutes. The Julie Bars were only $2.50 at FairWheels compared to $2.59 at Fuel. A penny here, a penny there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.

hammer caffe latte front

Purchased at FairWheel Bikes for $2.90

I had a little trouble getting the Hammer powder into my water bottle. In fact, even though it’s a single serving, I ended up splitting it up into two bottles because it was easier. As you can see, I had a heck of a time getting the packaging open which almost certainly contributed to the difficulties getting it in the bottles. Once it made it into the bottles and I got the wheel back on the bike, I was off for my 1.5 hour spin. I decided to ride the Santa Cruz River path. No pictures of the route or metrics today. If you want to see them, go to the link. There’s nothing fascinating there, otherwise I would have posted them here! 😉

What did I think of the Hammer Perpetuem? To be perfectly frank, I didn’t like the taste one bit. I’m a coffee guy; I go through more coffee in a day that I should. And this tasted like crap. Literally. I would not want anyone else to have to taste what I did. Maybe that’s because I didn’t follow directions and split the package into two servings. If that’s all it takes to make this product taste like poo then you still shouldn’t buy it. After the first swig I thought I was going to vomit. It was that bad. And I had another hour of riding with nothing to drink but this swill. I made through. Out and back with some zone 1-2 work on flat terrain. Going out was slightly downhill but into a stiff wind. Coming back was a lot nicer since it was with the wind.

julie bar mint chocolate front

Purchased at FairWheel Bikes for $2.50

Getting back to my bike box, I notice that I’ve been riding with my running shorts over my cycling shorts. Whoops. I forgot to take them off before the ride. The transition to running will be a lot shorter now though. I lock my bike up, whip out the Julie Bar and head out for a 6 mile run. After my last write-up, I received a nice reply from the one-and-only Julie of Julie Bar. She reassured me that, yes, they do sell Julie Bars at Highland Market, but they aren’t in the spot I was looking.

Anyway, I didn’t really get a chance to sit down and enjoy this bar. It was presumably used for its intended purpose: to be scarfed down during endurance exercise. With that in mind, I didn’t really enjoy this as much as their German Chocolate flavor. The German Chocolate tasted chocolate-y, this one tasted like watered-down chocolate. Maybe that’s the German heritage in me coming out. 🙂

The Mint Chocolate flavor has 210 calories compared to the 180 in the German Chocolate, so it gives a bigger bang for the buck. And since I actually paid less for it, I got more bang for less buck! Woohoo! It tasted okay and would recommend at least trying it, but for me, I enjoy the flavor of the German Chocolate more. I still have more flavors to test out though, so who knows, maybe I’ll be hooked by the next one.

university of arizona mall

University of Arizona mall during daylight hours.

The run, which started immediately after the ride, without the product review interlude, was fairly uneventful. Since it was already post-sunset, I decided to stay in the light, which meant running around campus. Luckily I had remembered to bring my lights for my bike so I could commute home. The path took me along the University of Arizona mall, running east to Campbell Ave, turning around and running west to Park Ave. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s a 1.5 mile loop, so simple math tells me I did the loop 4 times. That seems right.

What amazed me was the number of bikers riding along the mall. What surprised me even more was the number of bikers riding without lights! Come on folks, you’re just asking for trouble. Buckle down and buy a front and rear light for $20. Besides being the law, it’s just common sense. Be safe. Be seen. Don’t become a statistic.

Back to the run. 6 miles. 60 minutes. Obviously 10 minutes per mile. Just getting some miles in before the 5k this Sunday. I’m not sure what my goal is for this race. I signed up just last week because I got a free registration. I’ll probably try for slightly faster than 7 minute/mile pace. I can always slow up if I don’t think I’m going to make it. We’ll see. No running tomorrow, but the plan still has a 4 or 5 hour bike ride. I don’t remember, I’ll have to look. I’m not sure if I’ll do the Shootout or head up Mount Lemmon. First comment (before I head out early tomorrow morning) decides!


Leave a comment

Filed under cycling, daily report, nutrition, product reviews, running, weight lifting

Product Review—Julie Bar German Chocolate

This is a follow-up to my last post, a race report that contained a few product reviews of handouts at the end of the race. One of those products was a sample PB&J Julie Bar. This is what I wrote about it:

race schwag

Sample PB&J along with other post-race freebies.

Last up is the Julie Bar. This is actually a locally owned business here in Tucson, so I’m hoping it tastes good and I can support them! That said, the sample I got was of the PB&J variety. The nutrition label says it’s made out of organic dates, organic raisins, and organic peanuts. 3 ingredients, now that’s my kind of sports food. The little sample only has 57 calories; a full-sized bar of the same flavor would have 170 according to their website. My first impression is that it is definitely not as sweet as the Muscle Milk. It doesn’t exactly taste like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but it doesn’t taste bad. I thought that the peanuts would be more of a butter than they were. They were basically small chucks sitting in the raisin and date goo. I think if they had been put through a food processor it would have a better consistency. But that’s just my two cents. This is definitely something I’d carry on a long bike ride or run. Or even have by the side of the pool on those long swim workouts (of which I’ve had none). The flavor is subtle, which is needed during intense physical exertion, so that’s a plus. It provides a calorie punch in a small package. Packaging is a negative again. I’m not sure how to get away from it, but each bar is individually wrapped in plastic. At $25 for 12 bars (online), it’s a little expensive, but for a small start-up company marketing locally, that’s to be expected. Add to that price at least $5.75 for shipping too. I’m not sure how much they cost in local businesses. All-in-all, I would recommend this product. I look forward to taste testing other flavors.

As a note to the Julie Bar team, as I was clicking around your site researching your bars, I noticed that when someone clicks on your flavors link, they see a blank page. The mouse-over is nice, but there should be something at the flavors page like there is for the buy local link. On to the review!

julie bar homepage

Click to order your Julie Bars! Image of website used under fair use.

Following the race, I decided to come into work to see if I could get caught up on some things I needed to do. I didn’t get anything productive done work-wise, but I did have enough energy to go to the gym. This should tell me that I needed to go harder during the race. Don’t worry, I know that now! Anyway, back to the real story. I was a little hungry and decided I’d try another flavor of the Julie Bar. So I went into Highland Market on the corner of 6th and Highland because I remember seeing them there before. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any! I looked everywhere, but didn’t ask anyone. Maybe they had them hidden in a corner. I was disappointed to say the least. After I finish this post, I’m going to send an email to Julie Bar letting them know about the situation. But my resolve to have another taste would not be so easily defeated.

julie bar german chocolate

German Chocolate Julie Bar

As I passed into the Campus Rec Center, I passed Fuel and thought to myself, “self, you should see if they have any Julie Bars in there”. So I did. And they did! At the counter, I couldn’t quite make up my mind which flavor I wanted to try. All I knew was that I didn’t want another PB&J and I wasn’t in the mood for pumpkin, so I had the nice woman behind the counter to surprise me. She handed me the German Chocolate flavor. It sounded tasty. It ended up being $2.59, which is about the same price you’d pay by ordering online. I know they also sell them at Fair Wheel Bikes, which I also frequent, so I’ll have to check out the price there too.

julie bar german chocolate back nutrition facts label


I didn’t want to wait until after lifting to taste the bar, plus with all the running around trying to find one I was a little famished. So I took a picture of it to prove that I actually bought it and ate it right there in the locker room. So all you ladies wondering what the men’s locker room at the UA Rec looks like, well now you know. And just to prove that I actually ate it, here’s a picture of the wrapper with no Julie Bar inside.

So what did I think? The real version is much larger than the sample given out at the race. I would estimate it was four times larger. The German Chocolate flavor contained 180 calories, 90 of them from the 10 grams of fat. The bar contains 2 grams of saturated fat. There are 25 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of protein. Using the standard 9 calories per gram of fat and 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate and protein that gives 210 calories. Close enough? It’s a difference of 16%. I hope the 180 calories is the right value and the other values were just rounded. We can use a little more math the find out some other cool stuff.

The German Chocolate Julie Bar divvies up the macronutrients to supply you with 44% of the calories coming from fat, 50% from carbohydrates and only 6% coming from protein. That distribution isn’t perfect, but it’s hard to provide a perfect distribution of nutrients in such a small, dense product. I would like to see a higher percentage of carbohydrates in a bar meant to be eaten during endurance events. Carbs are the easiest macronutrients to be absorbed and used quickly by our bodies. There is recent research that suggests that there is some need for protein during endurance events as well, but 6% is probably at the high-end of the ideal range. But fats are harder to digest and can’t be immediately used for energy. This makes them not ideal in an energy bar. It would be nice if they could get a ratio of around 70:25:5 ratio of carbs to fat to protein.

So there I am with my newly bought Julie Bar in the locker room and I want to eat it! As can be seen in the photo above, it comes individually wrapped in plastic. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to open. It took me a long time and significant gnashing of teeth to get it open so I could consume my bar. I’m only glad I didn’t buy a bundle and then head out on a hard group ride to only find I couldn’t open my food and end up bonking! Hopefully I would have been smart enough to stop and eat before actually bonking even if it means getting dropped, but that’s not guaranteed with me.

And now to the part you’ve been waiting for: how did it taste? It was glorious! This bar contains only four ingredients than, one more than the PB&J version, but they are still all organic, dairy-free, and gluten-free. The German Chocolate Julie Bar contains: organic dates, organic walnuts, organic cocoa powder, and organic coconut. The dates are very mild and could hardly be tasted at all. But there was a near-perfect blend of flavors from the cocoa, walnuts, and coconut. If I could have changed one thing, I would have liked a little bit more coconut flavor. I realize that coconuts are high in fat, which I discuss above, and there needs to be trade-offs between taste and nutrition. Maybe this was the best solution. I don’t know, I didn’t get to taste test prior iterations. But I will if I’m asked!

In summary:
Price: $2.59
Taste: 4.5/5
Nutrition: 4/5
Packaging: 2/5
Overall: 4/5
Recommend: Highly!

1 Comment

Filed under nutrition, product reviews