Whole Food Marathon Fueling And Making Your Own Raw Apple Cinnamon Energy Bars

brendan brazier training thrive diet 01 Whole Food Marathon Fueling And Making Your Own Raw Apple Cinnamon Energy Bars

Photographer: G Monkie (CC)

As you are probably aware, commercial versions of many sport nutrition products are not always the healthiest option. Commonly packed with artificial flavours, refined carbohydrates, denatured proteins and sometimes even harmful fats, I certainly don’t want to consume anything that doesn’t put overall health first.While some commercial options are not as bad as they once were, I like to know exactly what goes into mine and keep them completely natural.

I make my own.

Whole food energy bars, sport drinks, energy gels, energy pudding, post-workout recovery drink, whole food meal replacement smoothies and even performance pancakes are all part of my specific sport nutrition program.

Immediately before exercise

The body’s first choice for fuel during intense exercise is simple carbohydrates. However, once the body has burned all the simple carbohydrates available, it will then opt for available complex carbohydrates. It’s in the athlete’s best interest to ensure that the body is provided with enough simple carbohydrates to fuel activity so that complex carbohydrates are not relied upon. If the body has to resort to burning complex carbohydrates while exercising at a high intensity, it will have to use extra energy in order to convert the complex carbs into simple carbs. Additionally, if too much protein is eaten before intense exercise, it will likely cause muscle cramping due to the fact that it requires more fluid to be metabolized than carbohydrate or fat does.

Also, protein is not what you want your body burning for fuel. Protein is for rebuilding muscle post-activity, not fuelling it. When too much protein is consumed in place of carbohydrates immediately before exercise — and therefore burned as fuel — it burns “dirty,” meaning that toxins are created as a result of its combustion. The production and elimination of toxins is of course a stress on the body, and as such causes a stress response. Ultimately endurance will decline.

brendan brazier training thrive diet 02 Whole Food Marathon Fueling And Making Your Own Raw Apple Cinnamon Energy Bars

brendan brazier training thrive diet 03 Whole Food Marathon Fueling And Making Your Own Raw Apple Cinnamon Energy Bars

Pre-workout snack

For a pre exercise snack, the most important factor is digestibility. If the food eaten shortly before a training session or race requires a large amount of energy to digest, it will leave the body with less, the last thing needed before exercise. Additionally, hard-to-breakdown food will require more blood be sent to the stomach to aid in the digestion process. Of course when blood is in the stomach, it can’t be in the extremities delivering oxygen and removing waste products, which is a requirement for optimal physical performance. It is also not uncommon for a “stitch” to occur in the diaphragm area if food has not been digested completely before a workout or race — especially an intense one — begins.

For high-intensity shorter training and racing, it is beneficial to fuel up on simple carbohydrates. The healthiest source of this is fruit. Dates are a good choice since they are rich in a simple carbohydrate called glucose. Glucose goes straight to the liver for immediate energy. The body does not have to convert it to a different form in order to utilize it, making glucose-rich-foods the ideal primary fuel before or during a high-intensity workout. However, it burns quickly, meaning that if glucose is the only carbohydrate source, it will have to be replenished about every 20 minutes after 1 hour of intense activity to keep the body adequately fuelled.

If I’m going to perform a mid-range to longer workout that lasts up to three hours but is still intense or compete in a race such as a marathon, I will have a nutritionally balanced raw bar. In addition to the dates, I include a small amount of alkaline protein, usually raw hemp, and an EFA source such as ground flax seeds or soaked almonds for prolonged, high net gain energy. In my new book, The Thrive Diet, I also include recipes for sport drinks, energy gels and recovery smoothies.

Try this recipe before your next run.

Apple Cinnamon Energy Bars

In a food processor, process all ingredients until desired texture is reached. If you prefer a uniformly smooth bar, process longer. If you would rather a bar with more crunch and texture, blend for less time. Generally, if I’m making them specifically to be eaten during physical activity, such as long training rides, I’ll blend the mixture until it is smooth, as this will reduce the amount of chewing required.

Remove mixture from processor and put on a clean surface. From there you can roll it into several balls or shape it into a bar.

These bars have a more traditional flavor than the others, yet the same health benefits as a nutrient-dense raw bar.

Makes approximately 12 x 50-gram bars.

For the Apple Cinnamon Energy Bars:

1 small apple, cored

1 cup fresh or soaked dried dates

1/2 cup soaked or cooked quinoa

1/4 cup almonds

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1/4 cup hemp protein

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Sea salt to taste

Variation: To make even more nutrient-dense, the ground flaxseeds and he hemp protein can be substituted on a 1:1 ratio with Vega Whole Food Smoothie Infusion.

thrive diet books by brendan brazier Whole Food Marathon Fueling And Making Your Own Raw Apple Cinnamon Energy Bars

  • Scott James

    Good recipe; I’ll have to go look up your book now to see how you did the gels. I’ve done a similar bar recipe without the flax seed and using organic raisins rather than dates.

    Great for everything from playing soccer all afternoon to snow-shoeing all day!

    – Scott James
    Fair Trade Sports
    Blog: http://www.fairtradesports.com
    Eco-Friendly, Fair Trade soccer balls!

  • http://www.p90xfree.com/ p90x


    Cindy Philips is the founder and director of Island Yoga Space. She\’s been teaching \’movement arts\’ since 1986 and holds a BA in Performing Arts from Southern Oregon University, Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Certification from White Lotus Foundation an…

  • zk

    Tried, tested and true. Brendan Brazier's book changed my life. I read it nearly one year ago, and still use it as a reference guide often, not just for recipes. (which are delicious)

  • http://www.radratjuicing.blogspot.com Kyle Ellen Nuse


    Thank you for making this information so accessible and delicious!

    Just a couple of questions:

    1.) For those of us who have a more yoga/brisk walking/light weight training (high reps), what do you suggest as a good before and after food plan? I am not sure if I should do the energy bites pre workout and smoothie post workout regime if my workout isn’t nearly as intense as running, for example. Also I do the above morning, afternoon and night, so it may be a little tricky getting the post snack in without the pre being right on top of it?

    2.) Being a woman, I have actually noticed that I can’t eat nearly as many nuts and fats as you are suggesting in your book without gaining weight. I have been mostly raw for a while, and eating nuts used to be OK, but I am finding my body holding on to them even with a lot of movement and exercise in my diet these days. It seems to me (and may other raw food gals) that our bodies respond very differently to a high fat raw diet then a man’s body does. So as much as I’d like to apply your advise I do worry about gaining weight. However, perhaps I am not eating the right raw foods at the right times and that has been the issue, not the food itself?

    Any advise you could offer would be most appreciated!


    PS: Would love for you to come thru NYC and speak sometime. Any chance?

  • http://www.drdougfullington.com Doug Fullington

    I recently reviewed Brandon’s Book, “Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life” on my website. It is an excellent guide to how eating raw vegan can not only improve your physical performance but also improve how you feel every day.

    I have been vegetarian then vegan for a number of years. I started eating raw 2 months ago. I have been amazed at what a difference it has made in my own performance on the bike (I ride with a local cycling club).

    As a physician, I am always trying to inspire my patients to improve their diet and exercise habits. I refer them to books like Brandon’s to help them make the transition. The most helpful experts are the ones that do it themselves.

  • http://afreshdille.wordpress.com/2010/05/04/my-hands-smell-of-basil/ my hands smell of basil « A Fresh Dille

    […] Brazier’s posts on G Living: I have yet to own one of his books, but this post about running fuel and recipe for Raw Apple Cinnamon Bars was wonderful. They sound just like Apple […]

  • http://www.london2012olympics.me Dominic

    I loved the way of writing the post. I will recommend the site to my friends!


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