Energy Item Round-up

It’s unfathomable now, but when I was a kid I hated eating and would do almost anything to avoid it. Eating meant coming inside after a long day of playing; it meant watching helplessly as diverse foods touched, mingled and mated; and most scarringly, it meant fighting with my parents over the role of vegetables in an active pre-teen diet. I fantasized about the future, when a single lozenge could take the place of a meal, and you could get all your nutrients without the laborious process of setting a table or chewing. Flying cars were for dreamers with no sense of reality – all I wanted was the meal pill.

Today that mythical future is a reality, and I want nothing to do with it. Science has now given us all kinds of weird supplements and replacements (not to mention that most lauded of nutrient breakthroughs – the vitamin-infused gummy bear), but who wants to miss out on the joy of eating an entire pizza in one sitting? This is why I rejected “Gu” with the disgust I normally reserve for romantic comedies featuring Drew Barrymoore. I like eating too much to waste hunger on anything that isn’t food.

For the uninitiated, Gu is that weird energy gel that athletes suck out of tiny packets, hearkening back to the Go-gurt days of yore. I successfully avoided it through my illustrious cycling career, but now that I’m running upwards of 20 miles, I face a crossroads. I need energy mid-run, but in these dark days preceding the advent of a banana portage garment, Gu is one of the few available options. So, like any good college student, I experimented. I ate a Gu. With a minimum of self-loathing.

Before sucking down my first Gu like the world’s sweatiest astronaut, however, I explored my options. Because I love to rank things, here’s my ranking of the top five best and worst energy items. Call it service journalism, if you’d like, and repay my hard labor by posting up for a simple high-five the next time I see you

THE BEST (in descending order of greatness)

5. Pure Bar Organic Cherry Cashew Bar – Not bad, but nothing to write home about.…unless you’re on a really boring vacation, and you bought too many postcards, and maybe you just watched a bear break into your campsite and wail on your stash of organic cherry cashew Pure Bars.
Calories: 200, Fat: 9g, Carb: 26g, Protein: 6g, Sugar: 14g

4. Clif Kid Z Bar Spooky S’mores – I love anything aimed at kids. This bar was tasty, small, and it made me want to sass someone’s parents before skateboarding off to a killer guitar riff. Also, I have a well-documented S’mores problem.
Calories: 130, Fat: 3.5g, Carb: 24g, Protein: 3g, Sugar: 11g.

3. Luna Bar Chai Tea – A heady cocktail of vanilla and cardamom infused with the spirit of womb-moon power. I felt nourished and sustained by this – it was like an evening of trust exercises between Gaia and my ovaries.
Calories: 190, Fat: 5g, Carb: 26g, Protein: 9g, Sugar: 12g.

2. KIND Bar Walnut and Date – This one tasted like magic, but my mom threw away the wrapper, so I can’t offer up any nutritional information. It was soft, yet supple, like nature’s response to the Fruit Roll-up.

1. Clif Mojo Bar Peanut Butter Pretzel – This one was a little hard to chew while running, but the sweet and salty taste sensations came at my mouth like gangbusters. Winner!
Calories: 200, Fat: 9, Carb: 21g, Protein: 10g, Sugar: 9g

THE WORST (in descending order of culinary malice)

5. Go-gurt – I didn’t even try this because it would have melted, and yogurt is weird enough when you’re standing still. I just don’t want anyone to suggest Go-gurt under the pretense that it hasn’t been considered.

4. Jelly Belly Sport Beans Berry – Not only an expensive choking hazard but arguably no better for you than just upending an Easter basket into your mouth while running.

3. Hammer Bar Almond Raisin – I still have promotional Hammer bars left over from a bike tour I led in ’06. Unless you’re trying to stay vegan on a thru-hike of the Appalachians, there’s no reason to experiment with these.

2. Kashi Chewy Granola bars – I’ve met gold teeth that were chewier than this! Kashi sounds and tastes like something you’d give an old dog to gnaw on. As human food, it’s like a honey-flax block of sorrow.

1. Balance Gold Bar Caramel Nut Blast – I actually threw this up without breaking stride. Chemical protein overload – it tastes like it’s filled with a bodybuilder’s ejaculate. “Nut Blast,” indeed!

“What about the Gu?” you’re probably wondering, if you’re one of the two people who have read this far, and by some strange coincidence you’re also one of the two people in my life who hasn’t tried Gu. Well, the Gu was unpredictably delicious. And predictably easy to tote. I tried the Strawberry Banana Gu variety and was pleased to note that it tasted much less chemical than expected.

Would I put Gu on a salad? No, I would not. Would I bring Gu to a potluck? No, I probably wouldn’t do that either. But neither will I feel ashamed of this new descent into yuppiehood and ridiculous product consumption. The marathon takes place this Sunday, so you better believe that I’ll be packing some major Gu. Also, I just like saying “Gu.”