Food & Fitness

Fueling Your Body


And the winner of the Tropical Traditions All Purpose Cleaner is… Michelle! Congratulations, Michelle; e-mail me your mailing address and I’ll make sure you get your cleaning product. Who knows, maybe it’ll work against the cat puke 😉

Fueling Your Body

Exercising and nutrition go hand in hand. You can’t operate at peak performance if you aren’t properly nourishing your body. Finding the right snack to eat before a workout can be tricky; you want it to be big enough that it provides fuel, but small enough that it doesn’t fill you up (because working out on a full stomach – or even a partially full stomach – is no fun at all!). It takes me about 30 minutes to drive from my home to the Aspire Fitness gym. My class is at 6am, so my alarm is set for about 5:10am. That gives me enough time to grab a pre-workout snack, get into my workout gear, and heat up the kettle to take tea with me for the drive.

Half of a banana or half of an apple with a couple tablespoons of PB2 (powdered low-fat, high-protein peanut butter) is perfect. Another great snack I like having about half an hour before my 6am HITT workout is half of an apple with a couple slices of cheese. My favourite is either high-protein, low-fat Allegro brand jalapeno cheese, or a low-fat cheddar. Some people (like HEAB!) work well on foods high in fat, but I find that my body really prefers a lower-fat diet.

The first time I had HITT at 6am, I had a couple slices of watermelon and a small handful dry-roasted almonds beforehand. For some reason, it did not sit well in my stomach. Perhaps fruits that are less watery work better for me? At any rate, I’m glad I’ve found the fruit-with-PB2-or-cheese combo, because it works for me.

Product Review: Kardea Nutrition Bars

Of course, one of the first things that people think of when discussion comes up about foods to fuel a workout is nutrition or energy bars. I’m not a big fan of energy bars. Most of them are filled with crap. Bars tend to be highly processed with nasty artificial ingredients and lots of added sugar. Plus, lots of them don’t taste very good.

I’ve never been able to get on the Larabar bandwagon. I’ve tried a few different types of Larabars and I just don’t enjoy them very much. But if you do enjoy them (and can shell out the money for the pricey bars!), then they are a great choice because they only contain fruit and nuts. I don’t like the way SoyJoy bars taste. I like Luna bars, but they have a ton of different ingredients and I often feel like I’m eating a kid’s snack when I indulge in one of them. Ditto for Kashi chewy bars.

Kardea recently sent me one nutrition bar each of their four flavours*. Each bar clocks in at a reasonable size of 38 grams for 140 calories per bar (side note: most bars are tiny and yet are often easily 200 calories or more a piece). Kardea nutrition bars have 7 grams each protein and fibre. What I really like about Kardea nutrition bars is the ratio between carbs, protein, and fat: 21 grams carbs, 5 grams fat, and 7 grams protein. It’s an ideal ratio for these three macronutrients. Seven grams of protein is also a good amount to have in a bar – most have two or three times as much as that, but we often really do not need that much protein.

And what about the ingredients? Well, sadly, the first ingredient in Kardea bars is brown rice syrup. Each bar has 8 grams of sugar, which is the equivalent to 2 tsp of sugar. It’s still quite a bit, but most bars have twice that much (and most cereals easily have that amount, too). Although it would be nice if sugar weren’t the first ingredient on the list, at least there is no more than 8 grams of it in the entire bar. If you watch your sugar intake otherwise, then having one of these bars every once in a while isn’t going to set you back too badly.

Other than the sugar (there are a couple other names for sugar later on in the list, like agave nectar), I’m pretty pleased with the ingredients. They are all things like “cranberries” or “brown rice protein concentrate” or “rolled oats”: ingredients that just about anyone can recognize. These bars are also kosher and vegan.

Finally, the taste: Oh. My. Lord. These bars are delicious. They are hands down the best bars I’ve ever had. They actually taste good enough that I’m thinking about getting more. Most of the time if I do a product review, I might like the product and would want to have it again, but I don’t necessarily go out of my way to actively get it myself. These bars, I would be willing to go out and get myself, no question.

The flavours were Banana Nut, Chai Spice, Cranberry Almond, and Lemon Ginger. I liked Chai Spice the best, although to be honest the flavours are all very similar with just subtle taste differences. I usually don’t like banana-flavoured things, but the Banana Nut was surprisingly delicious too. I really enjoyed every single flavour – they taste natural. These are also chewy bars. If you put the bar in the refrigerator, it will be a bit tough to munch on when it’s straight from the fridge but if you leave it just for 5 minutes to warm to room temperature, it will return to a delightfully chewy texture once again.

As a pre-workout snack, the bar is great. The ratio of carbs, protein, and fat really fueled me for a great workout. The bar also works as a nice dessert or midday treat. It’s not a stick-to-your-ribs type of bar, but it’s good for when you’re in a hurry and need a little bit of energy to keep going.

What do you like to eat to fuel your body for a workout?

*Disclaimer: I received Kardea nutrition bar samples for free and did not receive any other compensation for this review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.


  1. Carla

    Sometimes I make a green smoothie with hemp seed protein powder, spirluna, coconut oil. I’m not vegan so I may have something that’s probably forbidden here. 😉 I learned the hard way and found out that my body does need a good amount of protein a day. I’m not sure if its the weight training or just my body type (mesomorph).

    1. Sagan Morrow

      I bet it’s a bit of both – seems to always be a few contributing factors for why our bodies need different amounts and kinds of macronutrients.

      And I like to dabble with all kinds of different eating habits – although I was mostly-vegan for a good half a year, it evolved into vegetarianism, and in the past month I’ve been having locally-grown elk and bison on a very regular basis. My body needed it! But I might make the change back to veganism soon – just doing what my body feels is necessary 🙂

      1. Carla

        @Sagan – Sometimes it seems to be seasonally too. During the summer, I find it easier to eat lighter and more raw veg, and when the weather starts to cool off, I’m back into more cooked foods (more steamed veggies and less raw), local grass fed meats, etc.

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  3. Mary Anne in Kentucky

    How much metabolisms differ. If I ate a “bite” before going off to work out I would be hungryhungryhungry the whole time, until I got to eat a full meal.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

    1. Sagan Morrow

      I used to be the same way. But now, I find that if I eat much more than 1/2 an apple, I can feel the food moving around in my tummy and I don’t get as good of a workout.

      That being said, one day before working out I ate my usual 1/2 apple with cheese and then ate a Kardea bar. And I didn’t have any digestion problems during the workout. Seems to depend on the day!

  4. Holly

    I love Kardea bars! I am a big bar fan because they are so convenient, and bars like Larabars make me feel a little less guilty (about being a processed food) because the ingredients list is so short. 🙂

  5. Geosomin

    Those sound really good. I usually make my own bars because then I know what is in them, but I have to say it would be nice to have some ready made bars that weren’t so sugary.
    I find I can’t eat much other than some nuts or a banana before I work out or I get very ill. Heck, I can’t eat much when I first wake up period. I have gotten to the point wehre I usually snarf a banana immediately after I workout and then have my breakfast about 15 minutes after and it works well for me. I keep trying to have some food before I workout, but I haven’t found the right “thing” yet that doesn’t make me queasy.

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Mmmm homemade bars. Good stuff! I like making bars too.

      I used to be a HUGE advocate of eating big breakfasts, but I’ve realized that big breakfasts are NOT for everyone. I go back and forth – sometimes I’m hungry all morning; other times, I can get by with a couple apples until lunch, no problem.

      I know that some people can’t eat ANYTHING until about 11am. And they still have plenty of energy in the morning and are a healthy weight. So I think that we each have to do what works for us. If breakfast doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work! I figure you’re better off eating the banana and nuts after working out rather than trying to eat something beforehand if it makes you feel queasy.

      That’s just my $0.02, though 🙂

  6. Lori

    Great job teaching those early morning classes. I used to teach a 5:30 and at one point a 6:00. I honestly have no idea how I did it. I’m not sure I could do it these days.

    I enjoyed Larabars for a long time, but have tired of the flavor. I still like a couple varieties, but don’t eat them as much as I used to. They do go on sale for 1 USD each here all the time so they aren’t all that expensive for us. The Kardea bars sound interesting. I’d much rather have some brown rice syrup than soy protein isolate. Do they contain SPI? If not, I’ll be on the look out for them.

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Oh I don’t teach – much as I would love to teach fitness classes, I think it would frustrate me to watch people working out and not be able to join in. If I’m waking up at 5am, I want to make sure that I’m the one who gets to exercise so I don’t have to do it later in the day 😉

      They do in fact contain isolated soy protein – which I must admit I do not know much about. Thanks for the heads up that you try to avoid that ingredient; I’ll do some more research into it to learn more about it!

  7. Jody - Fit at 52

    I am actually one of those people that get sick with food in my stomach when I work out. I know many need something but me.. I am better with an empty stomach even as hard as I work out. So… no food for me but lots of water!

    I also make my own protein bars/protein cookies so I control the ingredients!

  8. Mimi (Gingersnaps)

    Those bars look tasty! Sad about all the sugar though.

    My favorite personal trainer, Leigh Peele, is a big believer in pre and post workour nutrition. I try to get in about 15 grams of protein beforehand, with some form of carb. I like cottage cheese and fruit, for example. I find that it really does make a difference in my stamina.

  9. The Candid RD

    Great post! I actually wake up around 6:30am and workout around 7:30am. To fuel, I drink coffee (hehe) and have some of my homemade granola. Bananas also work well for me, or just a little bit of cooked oats.

    We sell these Kardea bars where I work, but I’ve never tried one. They are too expensive, in my opinion, and the first ingredient being sugar is definitely a turnoff (despite the fact that it’s “more natural sugar”….). I do want to try one though, now that you say they are delicious! I may have to splurge. I could eat half for a snack, and then the other half later in the day. That tends to work for me with a lot of bars.

  10. vered

    “What do you like to eat to fuel your body for a workout?”

    Peanut butter is perfect. I spread it on toast, though. Also, a small bowl of thick Greek yogurt with a handful of walnuts and another handful dried fruit. Love the combination of cheese and dried apricots. Agree on watery fruit prior to a workout.

  11. Emergefit

    Yes!! Love to half and apple, dig out the core, and plop in a a fair Tsp. of peanut butter. That snack has powered thousands of hours of intense exercise in my life. Maybe, MAYBE will consider the Kardea bars. I try to avoid bars of any kind, but on my schedule sometimes they are just right — and that was a glowing recommendation. If I do try them it will be BWOY.

    1. Sagan Morrow


      I’m with you on avoiding bars – there’s generally just so much healthier, better-tasting food out there. But, like you say, sometimes they fit with the schedule!

      I can’t even begin to imagine how many jars of peanut butter we all must have eaten so far in our lives. Mmmm peanut butter.

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