Are Raisins Better Than Energy Bars During Workouts?

I know that I have a lot of friends that eat energy bars during long workouts, and I see people training, constantly squirting energy gels down their gullets whilst working out.  I, on the other hand, am more of a purist and drink water before I workout and after, and as a treat, I may chew gum…..I know, probably not how the Olympians train.  But, an interesting study was performed recently to study the actual difference in athletes when they ate energy bars/gels, raisins, or just had water during endurance workouts. I was not sure what the results would show, and I was rather impressed with the results.

What are raisins?

Raisins are dried dark grapes (golden raisins are dried green grapes and are known as sultanas outside of the US), and they are full of antioxidants.  They consist of about 70% fructose (natural sugars), and they have some fiber and a small amount of proteins available.  They have been shown in some recent studies to aid in decreasing blood pressure for those with hypertension (high blood pressure). A lot of people have total aversions to raisins….I happen to think they are a tasty treat!

What are energy bars?

Energy bars are supplemental foods that usually contain grains and cereals (carbohydrates), along with proteins, and sugars.  They are created for a quick burst of energy through food source when your body needs it, with a low glycemic index to give fuel over a longer period of time than a super sugar rush that will make you crash later. They are created as a food source for immediate release energy when your body needs it to refuel and to keep the body fueled for a longer amount of time.

What did the research show?

Well, in thinking about the idea behind energy bars and the idea of eating them to rejuvenate a workout versus raisins or just plain old water to rehydrate, the assumption would be that energy bars would be the winner, right?  Well, I was wrong! The study that was performed at the University of California, Davis had some interesting results.  The researchers took a group of endurance runners, and ran three different trials with a full 7 day break between trials; they were asked to run for 80 minutes (to deplete their glycogen stores- the readily available energy in the body) then either eat an energy bar/chew, raisins, or just have some water, then run a timed 5K.  It was found that the runners had over a minute faster time in the 5K after eating energy chews or raisins versus just rehydrating with water. Interesting, right?

Energy bars are supposed to be created specifically for the purpose of giving immediate energy for workouts, but if the fructose from raisins can do the exact same thing and boost your immediate energy source, they are a much cheaper alternative, so unless you hate raisins, why wouldn’t you give it a try? Plus with raisins you are getting the benefit of antioxidants, eating a totally natural food source, along with some fiber, vitamins, and some protein.  For the price difference?  I’d ditch the bars and get some raisins….as a raisin lover.  If you hate them, then back to the drawing board, or stick with the expensive energy bars!

Yours in Good Health


Comments Closed