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Jackson Browne Load-Out Stay lyrics says it all:
And these towns all look the same
We just pass the time in our hotel rooms
And wander ’round backstage
Till those lights come up and we hear that crowd
And we remember why we came
You’d be amazed what athletes bring on the bus.
In my College days, I would bring bagels, “portable fruit” that does not require refrigeration such as bananas, and granola bars. Any of my ex-teammates remember stopping at the Faubourg Bagel shop in Montreal before every track meet?
Ah, yes, back then I didn’t read the label. I was young. I was naive. I just assumed when it said “granola”, it was actually healthy, just like Auntie Maggie who is a vegan living in Weed, California (or Wells, BC… you get the idea) and eats a lot of granola.
The boxes from cereal bars had nice pictures of fresh apples or cranberries. It just looked so darn wholesome.
I can summarize my advice to anyone who eats cereal and breakfast bars, whether as a snack or to replace a meal:
RTFL or Read The Fancy* Label
(*You can replace the word Fancy with any four letter word that starts with F! This is a family friendly site)
Who am I being skeptical? Because they are loaded with sugar and fats.
I’m not saying I don’t like them. If I was starving and had no other choice, sure, I would eat one. But I’ll also eat a homemade cookie or tea biscuit with Grandma at 4 o’clock tea, so I don’t insult her.
Why so much junk?
Why so much junk? Several reasons, but in a word: preservatives. Other conspiracy theories include your brain being programmed to crave junk food by the junk food industry.
There are 6 ways to keeps food fresh and bacteria free:
- cold (refrigerate or freeze)
- dry or desiccate (beef jerky comes to mind)
- fat (of all sorts – saturated, unsaturated, polyunsaturated, monosaturated, and terrible trans fat)
- and of course, chemicals like BHT
Salt, Sugar and Fat are the 3 biggest concerns in fast food, along with the high amount of calories. Read EAT THIS NOT THAT book.
Here are some of the products that were available to me at the time.
Carnation Instant Breakfast was one of the first quick fixes for those who didn’t have time for breakfast. Unless you had a blender, that powder would clump and make the drink disgusting. Protein Powder shakers weren’t invented yet.
Nutrigrain (by Kellogg) was one of the first soft breakfast bars. Half the carbs are sugars, and there’s a lot of sodium in it. To me, it is a glorified “Fig Newton”.
Then came Quaker Chewy Bars Granola Bars (now owned by Pepsi Co). Today, they used to label “0 trans fat” and now they have “0 HFCS” on it. HFCS is an acronym for High Fructose Corn Syrup. You have to fight evil where it comes, I guess.
But what irks me the most is they started adding marshmallows, chocolate chips, dipping it in chocolate or yogurt like coatings. Even two flavour twists.
Now check the carbs (and sugars), fats (and saturated fats) and sodium.
You might as well eat a Snickers bar or Mars bar. And we call them candy bars.
The Last Word
Everything has its time and place, and I don’t mind having these breakfast or cereal bars in the repertoire, but please don’t call them breakfast bars or try to disguise them as being “healthy”.
One and a half bars is almost equal to a single original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut.
Another reason why they are bad is they are “sticky” and the sugar residue stays in your teeth and gums longer.
But that’s okay. 400 meter runners always carry their toothbrush on road trips in case they throw up!
Just ask “upchuck” Charles (name withheld to protect the innocent)