Young athletes are constantly striving to have that extra “edge,” and they often turn to commercial products in order to achieve their training and competition goals. Kids and teens turn to sports drinks, protein powders, chews and gels (there’s even “sports” jelly beans!) for muscle building and repair and quick pre-workout energy boost. But you have all heard me talk about the concept of “real food,” and why protein, electrolytes and carbohydrates are always best when they come from real whole foods.

So I decided to look into the idea of raisins as sports nutrition “chews.” I actually came across a couple of scientific studies which studied the notion of “natural vs commercial carbohydrate supplementation” for athletes. One of the studies, recently published in 2012 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition compared the metabolic and performance effects of raisins compared to commercial sport chews. The conclusion was that performance was equal when raisins or sports chews were taken prior to exercise, and they were both better than water alone. Another study from Louisiana State University came to the same conclusions.

So let’s talk a little about raisins: about 1/5 of a cup contains 100 calories, 1.6 grams of fiber, 8 mg of sodium and 238mg of potassium. They are inexpensive, convenient, and nutritious. Raisins provide an ideal pre-workout energy boost but also provide fiber and micronutrients, such as potassium and iron, WITHOUT any added sugar, artificial flavor or colors. An let’s face it, who doesn’t love that little red box with the yellow sun and red hat lady?

So next time you’re looking for a pre-workout boost or a endurance sports mid-race snack, don’t underestimate real food like raisins, it can literally take you a LONG way!

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