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A new Power Bar

Ever since I started working out (again) I've been noticing a lot of workout foods like Power Bars and their kin that I never really noticed before [1].

Power Bars are supposed to be a convenient, and non-perishable, source of protein that one can eat to get a quick protein boost in the system [2]. But there are problems with these bars. First, they're expensive: a bar with 30 grams of protein might cost three dollars. Second, they taste like crap and usually have to contain quite a bit of sugar just to make them palatable. Finally, they're just not natural.

I was wondering if there could be a cheaper, healthier, more natural, but just as convenient protein source to use in place of Power Bars. And, after considering it for a while, I realized that there is.

I present to you: Sardines.

Sardines retain most of the benefits of power bars, improve on the problems with power bars, and have their own benefits as well. They're cheap (a tin of sardines will cost a dollar or less). They're tasty (just be sure to get them in mustard or some kind of sauce; they're messy in oil and a litte too bland in water [3]). They're natural. They're high in omega-3 fatty acids. A tin of sardines contains 20-25 grams of protein. They're non-perishable and almost as convenient (obtaining a fork might be a problem in some situations). In other words, sardines are healthy, tasty, cheap muscle food. So next time you're tempted by a Power Bar, consider sardines instead.

Another possibility you may have thought of is good old tuna. It's just as convenient and higher in protein than sardines, but I'd recommend eating tuna less often. Tuna has a few drawbacks. First, it's high in mercury. Sardines are (much) lower on the food chain and so don't contain as much mercury. I doubt a healthy, non-child-bearing person would get mercury poisoning from a few tins of tuna a week, but it's still best to eat it in moderation. Second, the canning process for tuna destroys much of the omega-3 fatty acid. High-end canned tuna, and tuna in plastic sleeves might retain those fatty acids, but they're also more expensive.


[1]It's amazing how when you start something, you notice things you never noticed before. For instance, after I read ''Pride and Prejudice'' I started noticing all the "sequels" to the story in bookstores, even though I knew the basic story and characters before I read it. Apparently my brain was benevolently sparing me from a sense of vicarious embarrassment on behalf of these authors, but after I read the novel it couldn't save me any longer.
[2]The theory of muscle building is basically that you need to saturate your metabolic pathways with protein, so that when your body is repairing from a workout, it ends up building more muscle than it otherwise would have by sheer partial pressure. So it's important to get a lot of protein.
[3]If you want some really good sardines, try fresh or frozen (but not refrozen) sardines. Sardines are great in the can, even if a tad bland, but you'd never guess that they're some of tastiest fish when grilled or pan-fried.
Tags: power_bars, protein, sardines, strength_training, tuna
Last Edited: 4 August 2011, 10:35 PM
1 comment:
SmellsFishy wrote: Sardines and high-oil ocean fishes are also longevity super-foods, something that cannot be claimed by a processed factory protein bar. However, BPA content is a major issue with many canned foods. Seek out BPA-free cans and packages, which are becoming more broadly available, and sustainable fisheries, such as Oregon for albacore tuna.
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