The short answer is that I had a list of ingredients I was trying to avoid, some of which can be found in energy snacks.
After eating pretty much anything for most of my life (except for Brussels sprouts), I discovered that I had intolerances to a number of processed ingredients and additives. All of them are widely used in food products.
Some I was mildly allergic to. Others caused inflammation, an upset stomach or a host of other non-specific, minor and almost imperceptible effects. But the sum of those effects was greater than their seemingly insignificant parts.
When I removed these ingredients from my diet, I slept better, had less aches and pains, could think more clearly, was less moody and had more energy….and so on.
But was I just being picky? Was I the only one reacting in this way? It turned out no.
There was credible research documenting exactly what I’d experienced for some ingredients. For others, while the research was inconclusive, a lot of other people were having the same issues as me.
Being at my best physically and mentally, I learned, meant not eating certain foods.
Image from INGREDIENTS:, by Dwight Eschliman & Steve Ettlinger.
Over time I created a list of ingredients to avoid. The criteria was simple. If I felt worse after eating something, it went on the list.
Avoiding these ingredients was easy once I figured out how. It meant real food where possible; whole fruit and vegetables, the right kinds of grains and unprocessed protein. For store-bought snacks it was a matter of reading labels and learning which brands didn’t use them.
Where I kept coming up short was sports food. I needed something to fuel my bike rides, and nearly all of the energy snacks I looked at contained ingredients on my list.
Which raised a bigger question.
If athletes wanted to eat clean food, they could do it in their everyday lives, but not for workouts? It didn’t make any sense.
To be clear, this is not a crusade against processed ingredients or additives. There’s a time and place for them, especially in sports nutrition products. Many athletes rely on them. All we’re saying is that it doesn’t have be the only option.
We created Clean Fuel for athletes who, like me, want to avoid certain ingredients. And for others who want a clean energy snack to add to their nutrition mix, to use alongside other products.
One final thought.
While there are foods I try not to eat, I’m not militant about it. Sometimes you just want to eat whatever and enjoy it, which I do. But if I need to be on my game…that’s when I’ll give it a second thought.
The images in this post are from (and of) INGREDIENTS:, by Dwight Eschliman & Steve Ettlinger. Credit: @eschlimanstudio
It’s a book we kept coming back to in our research. For anyone wanting to learn more about the ingredients they see on food labels, it offers well-researched, objective information. A lot of literature on the subject is highly technical and requires advanced knowledge to understand. This book is the opposite; clear, accessible and engaging.
Image of INGREDIENTS:, by Dwight Eschliman & Steve Ettlinger.