Whole Food vs. Sports Drinks, Bars And Chews

Which type of nutrition is better for endurance athletes?

Believe it or not, there was a time when sports drinks, energy bars and recovery drinks didn’t exist. In the days before the advent of ergogenic products, endurance athletes used real food and drinks to get the energy they needed during competition. Tour de France cyclists drank sodas, Ironman triathletes ate bananas, and Boston Marathon runners drank water.

Real food and drinks still have a small place in endurance competition, but they have been marginalized by packaged products such as sports drinks, carbohydrate gels, and energy chews that are formulated for one specific use. Lately, however, real food and drinks have started to make a comeback — in the exercise science laboratory, at least. Several recent studies have pitted everyday snacks and beverages against familiar ergogenic products to test the widely held assumption that the latter work better. Let’s take a quick look at a few of these studies.

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