Seth Stevenson and Eliza Truitt test sports foods and drinks.

Tubular, Dude!
Oct. 26 1999 11:02 AM

Seth Stevenson and Eliza Truitt test sports foods and drinks.

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Good morning, Eliza. I think I pulled my quad.

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Readers should know that, in the interest of providing an experiential base for our "Eating Club" on sports food, Eliza and I jogged across the Brooklyn Bridge and back yesterday evening. Prior to the run, we gathered at my apartment to eat various sport/fuel/energy/nutrition/performance snacks, all of which came in bar form.

I first sampled the TwinLab Ironman Nutrition Bar in Cookie Dough flavor. First off, isn't cookie dough the wrong association for someone who presumably wants to work out and stay fit and healthy? Second off, ewwww! Who wants to eat cookie dough right before running? This bar possessed a floury dryness that induced slow cud-chewing. It was work to eat. It tasted bad. But it did have the coveted 40-30-30 ratio, which I will let you explain, Eliza.

We tried several other bars, too. I'll let you get into the details on them, but for my money they were all bad, and mostly in the same way as the cookie dough: chalky, a chore to get down, bland tasting, eliciting tremendous belches. I do want to give special notice to the second entry from TwinLab: The Ironman Nutrition Bar in Cookies 'N Creme flavor. This was everything that Cookie Dough was and more. So much more, in fact, that I spat it out before I swallowed it. I rarely, verging on never, spit out food, yet this was so repulsive in its texture (mucousy sludge) and taste (not exactly sure what it was, but not cookies 'n creme, I can for sure tell you that) that I could not countenance digesting it. By far the worst bar we tried.

The run was lovely--cool breeze, sparkling skyline--and I actually felt quite good, energy-wise. I'm not entirely willing to ascribe this to the sports bars we ate, but it can't be ruled out. Halfway through the run, I tried our next sport-food contestant: Power Gel from PowerBar, a little packet of goo that one is meant to squeeze into one's mouth in the midst of an exercise session. Power Gel's consistency was like a more viscous yogurt. I ask you, can there be any food one wants less in the middle of a long jog than yogurt, only more viscous? Answer: No, there cannot.

Post-run, we tried Ultra Fuel sports drinks. Mine was grape. It was pretty good, and refreshing. Not much different than Gatorade. Maybe a little sweeter, definitely a little thicker in consistency. We also tried the Jog Mate Protein Tube (the one you thought smelled like meat, Eliza). Jumping on the recent food-in-a-tube fad, Jog Mate "supports muscle recovery." It directs you to "consume entire tube contents within 30 minutes after exercise." It resembles nothing so much as pudding, in a tube. Actually, more like just pudding skin. Lots of it. Compressed together. In a tube. It wasn't bad, and in general I'm a big fan of the food-in-a-tube movement.

Today I feel pretty good, other than the quad. I guess most of my muscles recovered, perhaps thanks to the tube. But what I want to know is, is there any reason to eat an Ironman bar instead of a granola bar, or drink Ultra Fuel instead of Snapple? And how are your quads?

As ever,
Seth

Eliza Truitt is an associate editor at Slate. Seth Stevenson is a general editor at Newsweek. This week, they test sports foods and drinks for performance-enhancing abilities.

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