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CocoNutz Fuel Energy Balls: Gluten Free Sports Nutrition

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Coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut cream, shredded coconut, and now…

CocoNutz Balls.  Yes, indeed.  Because we all needed some more balls after my last post of cookie dough protein ball deliciousness.

It looks like a chocolate malty ball, doesn’t it?  It’s not.  Chocolate malt balls aren’t gluten free anyway, damn you, Whoppers.

Anyhow…

A while back Casey from CocoNutz contacted me to see if I’d be interested in trying out CocoNutz for my cycling nutrition.  I knew I liked him already when I saw this disclaimer:

None of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA—please don’t assume these statements will take the place of advice from a well trained physician or local witch doctor. We’re not claiming coconut oil will make you better looking or help you win the lottery—we’re just saying it’s a great product to aid in athlete nutrition.

A man after my own heart, right there.

Flavors

CocoNutz Fuel have some stellar ingredients.  There are currently 3 flavors: Cherry Cashew Attack (favorite),  Berry Almond Explosion (2nd favorite), and Mango Macadamia Madness (least favorite).  None of them really look as well defined as the ball in the picture, but that’s OK with me.  Each flavor has the ingredients you would expect given the flavor, and each flavor also incorporates chia seed, coconut oil, Real Salt, and agave.  They also utilize oat flour, and it is certified gluten free oat flour.

In the FAQ’s:

CocoNutz Fuel is gluten free; however, please note: We specifically purchase oat flour that is gluten free to ensure integrity of the product, but CocoNutz Fuel currently shares a manufacturing facility that processes wheat, peanut and dairy products.

Major processing of CocoNutz Fuel is done on dedicated equipment, but as with any shared facility, a possibility of minute amounts of wheat could make it into the product. We do our best to ensure this doesn’t happen, but we want to make you aware.

Casey did tell me via email that wheat flour was not used in the current shared facility.  They are also planning on having the CocoNutz Fuel products certified gluten free in the future.

OK, back to coconut oil

You may be surprised at the inclusion of a fat source in an energy food geared toward endurance athletes.  In fact, the unique composition and properties of coconut oil make it very well suited for endurance athletes.  I’ve recently been working with Kelli Jennings RD, of Apex Nutrition LLC and she has me utilizing coconut products for recovery nutrition.

I was a little concerned about the coconut oil in the balls though, because I live in an area of the US where it frequently feels as if someone has thrown a hot wet blanket over the world. Yes, I live in hot and humid south Florida.  Coconut oil is solid at temperatures below about 75 degrees F.  Which means it tends to melt and liquify at temperatures above that.  The air conditioning in our house is set at 76, which means my coconut oil in the cabinet is always confused.  More importantly though, would the CocoNutz balls stay intact in a jersey pocket in the South Florida heat?

Before we answer that question…(a cliffhanger, yes.)

CocoNutz Fuel are designed as balls, obviously.  The balls fit inside a plastic tube.  The tube is reusable and refillable, so when you finish your batch of balls you just refill the tube with a refill pack.  Genius, and environmentally friendly.  Since the balls are small, if you only need a little bit of nutrition, just have one ball.  Need more, eat more.  Very simple.  The only problem I ran into was that the balls stuck together in the heat, which made getting them out of the tube a little tougher.  The “quick shake to seperate” did not do the trick, I had to peel them apart.  They did not melt into a mess, just stuck together.  Casey has told me that they are working on the stickage issue.

All flavors of the balls are tasty, and not overly sweet.  They do have nut butters and salt to add to the savory factor, which can be really helpful when you’ve been fueling on super sweet gels.

So, does the person going to spend 30 or 40 minutes on a piece of cardio equipment at the gym need to fuel with these little bites of deliciousness?  Hellz no, no CocoNutz balls for you.  These are treats, or fuel for extended exercise > 90 minutes.  But they sure are tasty.

If you need some more info for generally eating a healthier gluten free menu, not just for sports nutrition balls, check out Gluten Free and Fit 101 for lots of articles to get you started.

Generation UCAN: Gluten Free Sports Supplement: Part 3

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This is the final (at least for now) installment on Generation UCAN.  To catch up, you can read Part 1 here which is about the science supporting the product, and Part 2 here, where I talk a little bit about my experiences with using UCAN.

I do want to mention again, that UCAN products are manufactured in a shared facility at the current time.  However, UCAN’s products have been independently tested and found to be free from gluten.  They are also pursuing gluten free certification.

Onward to the testing!

I’ve been back on the bike after my elbow dislocation for just over a month now, and ramping up my training. I’m now getting in about 9-11 hours a week on the bike, 1 hour of weights, and 1-2 yoga sessions per week. (Every 4 weeks I back off of the volume and “deload”-take a bit of a break.)

Training is going well and I am definitely becoming a stronger cyclist.  (As an aside, I am also learning to “suffer” more, which in cycling is a good thing.)

So how does this relate to UCAN?  Well, riding more and riding harder means I am using more energy, expending more calories.  If you don’t have adequate energy stores, you can “bonk” ie: run out of energy.  It really sucks.

Calories, mph, and prep.

It’s been a bit of trial and error for me to figure out how much energy (calories) I need to take in prior to getting on the bike, how long ahead of time, if I need to eat while riding, etc.  It’s still a work in progress, to be honest.  When I do hard rides I think I will need to drink 2 packs of UCAN before going out.  Hard rides for me are several hours in length and speeds can be close to or over 30 mph for some stretches.  Remember, I live in flat south Florida.

For example, yesterday I rode the hardest I’ve ever rode.  20+ mph winds, covered 49 miles in 2 hrs and 32 minutes and according to my Garmin burned 1100 calories.  That was an extremely hard ride, and there ain’t no way I was taking one hand off the handlebars to eat, especially not with one weaker arm still.  Days like that I think I will need 2 packs of UCAN pre-ride and likely some calories in my water bottle as well.  As it was, I took one pack of UCAN pre-ride with a half scoop of whey protein, rode for 45 min at a moderate pace on the way to the group ride, had a banana before the suffer fest began, and bonked just a couple miles from where the car was parked.  D’OH!!  I had obviously used my stored glycogen.  After I had some food and sat down for a while I felt much better. 😉

I have not yet reached the level of science geekdom to take a glucometer to measure blood sugar while I’m out on my rides, although I have seriously considered it.  I do have a couple more measures of note to share with you since the last time, though.

Blood sugar testing

In my last post, I shared that my blood sugar had gone up to 123 after eating approximately 100 grams worth of carbohydrate from Chex cereal and kettle corn (along with some protein.)  I repeated this experiment using approximately 100 grams of carbohydrate from UCAN after a hard-ish but long (over 3 hours) ride.  I tested my blood sugar about 45 minutes later because I was starving and wanted to eat again, and my glucose level was 73 ng/dl.

Of course, as I mentioned before, this is not the best scientific method that I am using here.  I may have expended more calories and energy on this second test, so had more “room” for those carbs.  But you can clearly see there is a big difference in my blood sugar response between the two forms of carbohydrate.  I can’t lie though, I do like to chew my food rather than drink it.

Here’s another example.  Last weekend I decided I wanted to chew my pre-ride meal.  Instead of taking UCAN and protein before my ride, as has become my custom, I had a bowl of Mesa Sunrise with raisins and a protein shake (I mix the powder with water and use it instead of milk.)  I kept fueling through my ride, Larabars and Honey Stinger energy chews every hour or two, and felt fine.  After the ride I had a Quest Bar and gluten free pretzels, then we went for brunch where I had an egg white omelet with chicken, grits, and fruit.  We came home, took our dog for a 20 minute walk, and I promptly felt awful.  Checked my blood sugar and sure enough it had fallen to 58 ng/dl.  Funky, eh?!?!

Could it be that my blood sugar was more unstable after having the faster digesting carbohydrate, and stayed that way?  Sure seems like it, although of course I’m just guessing.  What I do know is that I will NOT be experimenting with chewing food prior to my rides.  Going forward I will happily drink my UCAN and protein.  the only question will be…

1 pack or 2?

I am willing to forgo chewing for more stable blood sugar while I am out on my bike, you can bet your gluten free biscuit on that.

As I mentioned before, the folks involved in the UCAN company are truly all phenomenal and have an awesome company mission.  They frequently post motivational quotes and pictures on their Facebook page, which I definitely recommend you check out.  (FYI, If you don’t already “like” GFF on Facebook, that’s where I post lots of interesting articles and blog posts that I come across that I used to post in the “roundup” posts.)  So, check out both Gluten Free Fitness and UCAN on Facebook.

Discount codes

Lastly,  as yet another piece of proof that UCAN rocks, they are offering a discount to GFF readers.  Use code “UCANCYCLE” at checkout.  This will get you a discount, and it will also indicate that you were referred from GFF and earn me credit.  So thanks!

If you need some more info for generally eating a healthier gluten free menu, not just for peri-workout nutrition, check out Gluten Free and Fit 101 for lots of articles to get you started.

So what are you waiting for?  UCAN do it!

The Healthy Gluten Free Life cookbook by Tammy Credicott: Video Book Review

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There’s a new gluten free cookbook in town.

While the title is similar to my e book (7 Quick Start Tips for Living a Healthy Gluten Free Fit Life without making yourself nuts in the process), they are very different books.

Complementary, but different.

My book is more of a workbook, with specific things to implement  to overall improve your gluten free lifestyle.  Tammy’s beautiful cookbook has recipes, resources, and is organized in a very user friendly way.  I definitely recommend checking out The Healthy Gluten-Free Life: 200 Delicious Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free and Egg-Free Recipes!

If you want some more nutrition/lifestyle info, Gluten Free and Fit 101 has a TON of resources.  Hard to believe I’ve been writing on this blog for over 2 years already! So go read up, chances are I’ve already written an article on it.

If not, feel free to ask me on Twitter, Facebook, or shoot me an email.