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It all started with salted dates. About 3 years ago, I posted about salted dates as a great training fuel. Many of my clients and readers regularly use them for their carbohydrates and sodium on a ride or run. They are a wonderful option for nutrition for athletes.
Today, we’re taking up a notch.
For a more substantial fuel option, maybe as the “whole food” you eat every 2-3 hours on a long ride (along with the simply fuels you use hourly), try Peanut-Butter Stuffed Salted Dates.
Let’s add some calories, a bit of protein and some interest to real-food fuel this week. Here’s the how and why of peanut-butter stuffed salted dates:
Recipe of the Week: Peanut Butter Stuffed Salted Dates
- 3 Medjool Dates, pitted
- 3 tsp peanut butter (or other nut butter – if adventurous, try Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams!)
- 1/12 tsp salt (measure 1/3 of a 1/4 teaspoon)
Cut open each date. Spread 1 tsp nut butter in each. Sprinkle salt over all 3. Close and pack up for your ride!
At about 30 grams carbohydrates, 220 calories, and 200 milligrams sodium, these dates work great for a pre-training snack before a longride, or for substantial fuel on one.
~220 calories, ~30 gm carbs, 4 gm protein, 2 gm fiber, 250 mg sodium
You’ve read it here: You don’t have to go into the sports nutrition aisle of your store to find one of the best fueling options available. And, you don’t have to put much prep into it, either. Here’s why Nut-Butter Salted Date Bites are one of my new go-to fuel options for long rides:
- The right carbs: Dates are mostly carbohydrates, with a dash of protein. The carbohydrates are both glucose and fructose (at almost 50:50), which give you the fastest available energy source (glucose) for use and replenishment of muscle glycogen, along with a slightly slower carbohydrate source in fructose. Dates do also contain fiber, and even though conventional wisdom would teach us that sports nutrition and fiber don’t mix, many athletes do fine with the digestion of dates, just like they do fine with high-fiber chia seeds and training.
- A concentrated source of carbs: One of the best parts of many engineered energy fuel, and especially gels, is the amount of carbs you get in a small volume. It’s easy to pack an extra gel in case the last hours of a century call for a bit more pick-me-up. Or, it’s easy to take one on a short ride without having to figure out where to carry it. The same is true of dates. Whole or chopped, they fit easily in your jersey pocket.
- The right electrolytes. Dates naturally contain a significant amount of potassium at 100 mg per day. Since I recommend 100-300 mg potassium, and 400-700 mg sodium per hour for any ride up to 3 hours, you’re covered with 100% potassium needs and ?50% sodium needs. Add in a sports drink with at least 100 mg sodium per 8 oz., and you’re all set…
- Antioxidants including vitamin A (eye health from betacarotene and zeaxanthin), tannins, and flavonoids. Like other whole foods, the nutrients go beyond the carbs, proteins, and fats to offer nutrients that enhance cellular health and fight and prevent disease.
- Minerals. In addition to potassium, you’ll get calcium, manganese, copper, and magnsesium! These minerals are especially important for bone health, muscle contractions, and energy production. Sounds like a good combo for a cyclist.
- A bit of protein, fat, fiber, & satiety: Although protein and fat are not needed from a nutrition standpoint on most rides, easy-to-digest proteins (such as nut butters, healthy fats, and a bit of fiber can provide great satiety on longer rides. If you use all quickly-digested carbs on a ride >3 hours, you’ll often get that hollow-stomach nausea feeling. Real foods, with real-food nutrients (as opposed to gels), can satisfy your stomach WHILE providing the nutrients your body can use.
This week, it’s as easy as chop, stuff, salt, bag, and ride. Ride long. All-natural, easy, and the right nutrients. Try it out and see if peanut-butter salted dates work for you. There are many good fuel choices available, and the trick is finding what digests, tastes good, and delivers energy and satiety on your ride…without any stomach issues. These stuffed-dates just might become your new long-ride (or run) go-to fuel as well.
Fuel Your Adventure. Nourish Your Body.