After the Final Bite

What do an elite track and field athlete, a mom with a PhD and constantly-stamped passport, a fifth-year UBC student who loves hiking and geomorphology, and two Grandparents tending exploding gardens in rural Nova Scotia have in common? Aside from our last name, we’re all newly recruited fans of SoLo Energy Bar!

I reached out to SoLo a few months ago during my quest for the perfect energy bar (if you’re looking for some entertainment check it out here), and my heart smiled to learn that they loved me too. I’ve been an athlete ambassador since June and I’ve been making busy work of eating my complimentary product.

Since the last bite (finale of my Energy Bar Bachelorette series), life has been pretty fun. I traveled to Portland, Canadian Track and Field Nationals, Europe, and enjoyed some down time at my family’s cottage in Nova Scotia. SoLo and I are definitely in the honeymoon phase – I can’t stop talking about them and I wouldn’t dream of looking at another bar.SoLo has also had some time to get to know my family, and it’s been going great…

Introducing SoLo bar to my family:

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“Sharing is Caring”

My sister Emma (the hiking geographer) loves this phrase. She’s been using it with limited success on me for years. Usually she’s after my closet, but lately my friends and family are after something else – and it’s low GI, tastes amazing, and gives you energy to keep going.

untitled1.pngI am still working on sharing clothes, but I have learned to love sharing food (as long as I still get some). The first time I thrust a SoLo bar at Emma she was a little skeptical, probably wondering what was wrong with it since I was willing to let it go. However, after I rambled on about some of the benefits (click here for research page) and how it had made it into my “final three” she gave it a go.

My point is, I’m not great at sharing anything, let alone things I like and have a finite number of, so what prompted my sharing of SoLo bars?

Because when you love something you set it free.

I’m serious.

Instead of hoarding my bars like a greedy chipmunk getting ready for winter, sharing has been super fun and helped me appreciate everyone’s different lifestyles and use cases for sustained energy.

Emma’s Use Case

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Favourite flavours: mocha fudge, dark chocolate mandarin

Emma loves being in nature and has traveled the world experiencing different environments. From observing rock striations in BC, pointing out drumlins in New Zealand, and studying microinvertebrates in Belize, she’s a busy gal. She is also a reformed picky eater which is why I was extra excited for her to be introduced to SoLo. Now she has something to pack in her bag on her next adventure, and while she’ll be polite and try the local food on special, I think my mom rests easier knowing she has a back-up snack to keep her going.

Mama J’s Use Case:

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Favourite flavours: Lemon Lift, White Chocolate Cherry

Jocelyn jumped on the SoLo Bar band wagon before I did. Within the past year she joined a gym and has been going on all sorts of awesome adventures, including a 90km hiking expedition in Iceland in July! To fuel her outdoor pursuits she started packing SoLo bars and hasn’t looked back. She enjoys the bars as a tasty snack on the trail, but also as a back-up nutrition option for some of her research-related travels. As I type she is on her way to Mongolia where she’ll speak at a conference about the research she and her UBC-based team have been working on. This will be her fourth trip to Mongolia and while she really enjoys the culture and people, the food is very different from what she’s used to. While it’s very *special* to be offered various sheep bits with a dollop of fat to wash down with some Mongolian vodka, I think her tummy will thank her for the SoLo bars she has squirrelled away in her luggage.

PS. when I asked my mom what flavour of bars she wanted when I was placing a SoLo order she originally typo requested “white chocolate chilli”… Could this be a new flavour suggestion for the SoLo R&D team?

Grandma & Grandpa’s Use Case:

 

Favourite flavours: dark chocolate coconut mint and lemon lift

My Grandma is not a big eater. I was stunned and amazed when she ate an entire hamburger one night when we BBQ’d on the cottage porch. She frequently skips meals and I worry she might not be getting enough energy to power her through her busy days. My grandparents have a beautiful property in Nova Scotia where we joke they’re building an arc as they currently house two horses, two cats, and two dogs. They’re kept very busy caring for the animals and tending their impressive flower and vegetable gardens, so if anyone needs to avoid a spike and a crash of energy it’s these two!

When I left each of them a SoLo bar I wasn’t expecting them to be devoured the next morning, and to receive such glowing reviews. Further good news – SoLo is stocked at Sobey’s (the nearest grocery story to their house), so they can access the bars without me bringing them from BC.

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A family that snacks together stays together

Bye for now, I’m on my way to Edmonton to celebrate my other Grandparents 65th wedding anniversary. Any guesses what I’ll be bringing them as a gift? 😉

Xoxo
Devan

No Longer a Bachelorette

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I’m officially changing my relationship status to taken. SoLo and I are engaged in a snacking relationship and I couldn’t be more excited about it. 


SoLo Picks Me Up

You may be wondering, how did this joyous union come to be? Well, after I made my decision about the winner of my bar competition (click here to go to the beginning of the journey), I reached out to SoLo to see if they could love me back. No joke, I sent an email saying “I love you but can you love me?”

*Spoiler alert*

They LOVE ME! (Or at least they’re intrigued enough to give me a shot).


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Energy that sustains

As a SoLo Ambassador I am looking forward to exploring the benefits of sustained energy and learning more about the low GI lifestyle. Prior to connecting with SoLo I didn’t know anything about it – here are some fun facts I’ve already learned (for more info click here to check out their site):

  • Low glycemic slow release carbohydrates, such as those contained in SoLo Bars, make us feel better, more focused, and more balanced over a longer period of time
  • Research studies have shown that a low GI, slow carb lifestyle may also lower blood glucose levels, cholesterol, and the risk of heart disease
  • SoLo Bar’s slow release carbs help to keep your blood sugar levels in a narrow range.  As a result, your body doesn’t experience the “spike, crash and crave” cycle that you often feel after eating high glycemic foods and snacks.
  • They are tasty!

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Can’t wait to taste the rainbow!

These lessons give me confidence that our relationship has a shot at making it out of the honeymoon phase and becoming something as stable as the energy I’m ingesting.

Trying a New Race

I  ran my first mile race on May 25th and my pre-race snack was…

You guessed it, a SoLo bar! 

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Winning the Minuro mile in 4:45, Kirsten close behind in second

I am pleased to report I won the race and scored some serious prize money – a first for me! I’d been feeling a little FOMO (fear of missing out), because University Championships were happening and as a graduated alumni I am officially too old (and out of eligibility) to compete. However, when you’re a student athlete you can’t accept prize money or you risk losing amateur status – something I don’t have to worry abut any more. Muahah. It was extra awesome that my boyfriend/training partner Jack won his race too, so we have some money in our pockets for when we head to Europe for some fast races this summer.

The race was extra special for me as it was on the 11th anniversary of my Dad passing away from colon cancer. On what is typically a sad day, it felt good to be doing something I love and pushing myself to try something new. It was awesome to have my mom there cheering for me, and see so many friends from the track community at the meet. It was extra fun to race with Kirsten, one of my best friends who also walked away with prize money for second place.

Date Night

IMG_9281SoLo and I also went on a date to the new Star Wars movie were surprised by the lack of SoLo Bars in the film. Han certainly could have used the benefits of sustained energy… maybe if he had chomped on a peanut power he could have done the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. (#NerdAlert).

I was a total CHEWbacca as I munched on my bar (in addition to popcorn obviously). Having a SoLo bar helped me resist the temptation of eating “too many” treats without feeling like I was missing out/punishing myself. While I can resist sugary pop no problem (I think I’ve seen too many science fair projects showing the effect of Coke on your teeth), I can’t say the same for those bags of mini Twix.

I LOVE CHOCOLATE. And while it’s OK to have a couple bites, devouring an entire bag before the movie starts probably isn’t the most nutritious choice – especially in racing season. By having my own great tasting snack I stayed on track with healthy goals, and wasn’t a sad panda.


What’s next for me and SoLo?

We’re taking this love story on the road!

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SoLo has won my heart!

You’ll catch SoLo bar and I (and Jack #thirdwheel), road tripping to Portland for my favourite race of the year – the Portland Track Festival! I will be eating at least one bar on race day as in addition to my own 800m race I will be rabbiting the women’s 1500m only an hour later.

For anyone new to the track scene, a rabbit is an athlete paid to “set the pace” for the field. You’re given a time to run (for me it’s 2:15 through 800m) and then you drop out once you’ve completed the distance agreed upon. The idea is that it helps the athletes in the field run faster, so I will be needing my extra energy to hit the pace and stay ahead of the pack!

Wish me luck (plz),

xoxo Devan

The Energy Bar Bachelorette: FINALE!

And the winner is…

I’ve found love and I want to tell you all about it. Similar to every contestant on the Bachelor I did have some last minute anxiety over picking the right partner. Choosing one bar to rule them all is a BIG DEAL and I take my commitments very seriously. But I couldn’t let my devoted readers (you) down so I had to make up my mind and listen to my heart (and stomach).


The Elimination of ONE Bar

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The first step was taking the final three down to the final two. This is when I realized what I already knew: ONE Bar isn’t the one for me.

It’s expensive, American, and artificial. While their vast array of dessert flavours are enticing, they aren’t catering to an athletic lifestyle and I don’t think we’re a great match.

It’s not them… it’s me? (JK it’s them).


The Final Two: Simply and SoLo

On paper Simply has it all. The bars are all natural, have 15g of protein, and come in a variety of flavours. Simply is also a Canadian brand and was recommended by my nutritionist. Eating a Simply bar felt like being set up on a blind date with someone who “checks all the boxes” but for whatever reason there’s no spark.

product-fan-whey-500The thing about love (in my wizened 24 year-old opinion), is that you can’t fit it in a neat nutritional information box. Love changes what you think you need and can’t be defined by what you thought were “dealbreakers.”

I wanted to feel excited about Simply, but I just wasn’t craving them. After eating it I wasn’t satisfied – I was left wanting something more….


SoLo Bar: Changing my plans

I need a bar that sustains and brings me happiness. I LOVE snacking – my boyfriend calls me Chomper for a reason –  and I need a bar that when I remember it’s in my bag I get a flash of pure unadulterated JOY.

I think I’ve found this with SoLo Bar.

When I started this blog series I wanted to find a single protein bar that met all of my (perceived) nutritional needs. I was looking for a bar to eat after track workouts that had 15g of protein, that was low calorie and low sugar. While polyamory did cross my mind (different bars for different kinds of training), I knew my snack experience would be more meaningful if it was with one brand only.

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I was so set on finding a bar for post workout that I had blinded myself to my other protein needs: snacking and pre-workout. In fact, I realized I should make more of an effort to eat a meal right after working out – instead of eating a protein bar in addition to a meal an hour or so later. I was also set on the idea that low sugar was the way to go, but now I understand the benefits of natural sugar as a quick source of easily digested energy.


Mother knows best

I introduced my mom to SoLo and she was ready to commit before me. Despite being an elite runner in University, my mom had never had a protein bar before I started my quest for the “perfect” one. When we were hiking in New Zealand I gave her a Kirkland bar to power her up a hike and she was less than impressed. While she said the energy was exactly what she needed, it was a chore to chew and felt like she was eating out of necessity vs. enjoyment.

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Mother/daughter snack team

I suggested she take SoLo on a snowshoe with her and that sealed the deal. She likes the “peanut power” but her favourite flavour is “lemon lift”. She’s off to Iceland in a couple months for another hiking expedition and she’s bringing an army of SoLo bars with her.


What’s Next for me and SoLo?

do-you-love-me-or-notI’ll be chomping on SoLo bars before races, when I need a snack, and to tide me over after practice if I don’t have time to eat dinner within the hour.

I reached out to SoLo to find out if they could love me back… Stay tuned for details on a potential partnership?!

 

 

 

The Energy Bar Bachelorette: Episode 5

It’s time to chew into these bar’s values and where they come from. But before I do…

Training Update:

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Chasing good times and the perfect protein bar

Training has been going awesome. I’m loving my new coach and program and focusing on training full-time (instead of working) is making a huge difference in the quality of my workouts.

Speed: I haven’t felt speedy since High School (when I ran my 55.61 400m PB). This is changing. Lynn has me doing sprints, stairs and drills which are sharpening my reflexes and giving me some serious power. Pair that with some consistent work in the gym with my strength trainer Devon (what a great name btw), and I’m getting excited to race.

Managing expectations: I’m excited to prove my fitness but I’m also keeping in mind that results can take awhile to come to fruition. The meat of my season will be in June/July so that’s when I need to be in fighting form. I’m looking forward to feeling the race vibes in California in a couple weeks but I know these races are just for feedback on the last few months training and I need to keep my expectations in check.

I’ll be sure to post an update after my first race so check back at some point after April 21st.


The companies: Time to learn about who raised these bars.

SOLO-GI-Logo-2013SoLo Bar

SoLo was the first bar to catch my eye, and has already made an excellent impression on my family. I can’t deny that I have serious feelings at stake here.

“SoLo Bars were designed using a unique blend of slow release carbohydrates, proteins and fibres that provide a lower glycemic response than other leading energy bars. This means SoLo fills your tank with premium fuel to keep your body running stronger over a longer period of time, so you don’t experience the “highs and lows” that occur when your blood sugar levels go up and down. “

SoLo bar website

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Sounds like stability is a top priority for SoLo, which I love. I am not a dramatic person and my relationships reflect that. SoLo’s website remarks “there are no roller coasters around here!” And that sounds pretty ideal. I don’t want my heart getting jerked around.

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Early days, flirting on Twitter

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I love how the company is local (based in BC) and seems really focused on balance and living a nutritious, fulfilling lifestyle.

Plus, look how many flavours there are! There may not be any roller coasters, but I don’t think there’s any risk of becoming bored.

Everything seems great. Except one thing…. the amount of protein. Post workout I think I need closer to 15g, and most of these bars are 10-13g. I could compromise and pair the bar with some milk… or just eat two?!

TBH eating two sounds like a pretty good idea…

Family Favourite: SoLo is my mom’s choice.


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(Bar)

 

I feel like ONE is speaking right to my soul…

“Stop playing the field and start playing, period: ONE Bar is packed with a whopping 20 grams of protein – but only 1 gram of sugar – all delivered in deliciously decadent, too-good-to-be-true flavors.”

ONE website

Part of me certainly feels like I have found “the one”. Taste, protein, flavour… or “flavor” as the Americans would say. ONE bar is all about avoiding guilt, and living a glamorous, indulgent life. However, the company is all about indulgent snacking – and not athletics. The target consumer seems to be the “in-the-know health suave cool person” at the office avoiding doughnuts and 3pm sugar cravings by opening their ONE-stocked snack drawer, and not a sweaty, protein-thirsty athlete such as myself.

 

This relationship has passion and excitement. But I’m looking for my partner for life here. I don’t want a fling, I need something that will last.

PS ONE touts the idea that you deserve an extravagant lifestyle – and they charge a price that reflects that. These bars near the $5 mark, which is hard to justify for an athlete on a budget


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No doubt, this bar is great for a snack, or after a light workout. Perfect after a pool run. In fact, I just had one this morning on my way home from the Aquatic Centre. Crunchy, tasty, and made with only wholesome simple ingredients – this bar is a serious contender for my heart.

 

“SimplyProtein® products are high protein, gluten free, and contain only 4g of sugar or less. All of our snacks are free from artificial sweeteners and flavours, making them perfect guilt-free snack options. “

SimplyProtein website

My only concern with this bar is if it has enough substance to satisfy me after a hard workout. I could compromise and supplement the (intentional) lack of carbs with some fruit, maybe a loaf of bread…

I know that every relationship is  bound to have insecurities and worrying if this bar has enough “substance” is overlooking the fact that it’s the only bar I’ve found that doesn’t have artificial ingredients and has 15g of protein!!! In that respect, it’s a bit of a unicorn.

 

Two of my favourite flavours: Cinnamon pecan and lemon coconut.

“I liked the flavour, it was a nice light option for right after a run. You don’t feel like you’re eating something heavy. But I don’t know about the texture… I felt like I was eating a rice krispy and I don’t know if that’s for me. It also tastes natural, I don’t feel like I’m eating artificial ingredients. Oh bonus, it wasn’t too sweet!”

– Tamara (Training partner of the Bar Bachelorette)

Simply’s mission statement is “to make healthy snacks for busy people” – I would say they’ve 100% succeeded – maybe now it’s time to grow their relationships? (As in be in a relationship with meeee?)

Side note: Tamara, how can comparing something to a Rice Krispy treat be a bad thing? Check yourself.


Next steps:

It’s time to make a decision.

 

 

The Energy Bar Bachelorette: Episode 4

With the “hometown dates” right around the corner, this is an appetite inducing week. By the end of this blog, the final three will be revealed. #Drama


One-on-One Snack: Vega

My training partner Tamara is a huge fan of Vega and I’m a huge fan of Tamara so I was looking forward to my first snack with this vegan option. I’m a little concerned that there’s only two flavours… but Tam Tam assures me that peanut butter chocolate is the only bar I’ll ever need so I’m keeping an open mind (or at least trying to).

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Post speed session at the South Surrey track

Basic nutritional info: 15g protein, 260 calories, 16g sugar

I tried to manage my expectations but I had high hopes for this bar and wasn’t disappointed. Tastes great, and a great amount of protein. I tweeted that I was trying the bar and they replied right away – wow, so nice! Not only do they meet my nutrition requirements (although the sugar is a bit much), they seem genuinely supportive and nurturing – in more ways than just nutrition.

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BUT… I feel like committing to Vega might be like marrying someone who’s devoutly religious when I’m not. No matter how great they are, it’s hard to look past the fact that we have drastically different values. How am I meant to explain to Vega’s family/friends that I’m not a vegan? How can I endorse the brand when I love steak almost as much as life itself? I don’t feel like Vega is pressuring me to convert, and maybe we can make it work…. I don’t know!


SUGAR: What is it good for?

First-things-first, that heading was meant to be read to the tune of “War” (if you missed this please go back and re-read) .

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I have been operating under the assumption that the less sugar the better. But then I started thinking… there must be more to sugar. Is some sugar actually a good thing? And, more interestingly, if a bar isn’t sweetened by sugar, than what is doing the trick?

So I asked around a little, and learned:

  1. Sugar can be a good as a quick source of energy especially before workouts
  2. Consider the source of sugar, if you’re having a bar made with dates, some sugar will be unavoidable (and natural)
  3. Sugar can be a helpful tool for elite athletes, but isn’t as helpful for the general public

So basically, sugar can be good, and maybe I shouldn’t be ruling out bars because of it. I think the bar this really impacts is the Clif brand… read on to see what I decide.


Group Date:

41oQE59uCIL._SR600,315_PIWhiteStrip,BottomLeft,0,35_PIStarRatingFIVE,BottomLeft,360,-6_SR600,315_SCLZZZZZZZ_Q: How am I only just discovering that the protein count for this bar is only 3.5g?

A: Because on the website it sneakily puts the amount of protein for 100g (which is 10g), instead of the amount per 35g bar (3.5g). I feel a bit humiliated and led on. This is like when a contestant on the Bachelor already has a boyfriend. What are you doing on this blog, you’re not here to find love, you’re here for fame!!!! Get out!!! #SingleTear


Picky-Bars

These bars have been neglected so far because they’re American and difficult to get a hold of. I swear they used to be stocked at Trader Joe’s, but I had no luck sourcing one in San Diego. I feel like Picky might be the contestant that leaves the bachelor for a legit reason (like they had to go back to a real job), before they had a chance to get to know the Bachelor and you always wonder if they’re the one that got away. I fear this is happening with Picky bar. If I can’t find one, how am I going to bite one? Maybe one day the stars will align and I will find them. But until then it doesn’t seem fair to my other contestants to keep holding out for a bar that’s not making themselves fully available to me (geographically and emotionally).


Clif-BarThere is no denying that Cliff is too sweet for me. The sugar content is sky high, and the protein content in regular Luna bars just isn’t enough for me. I do have a soft spot for the mint chocolate chip builder bar, but I don’t know if that’s enough to carry the relationship.


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I’m starting to feel a bit bad for ONE bar as it’s clear they have no friends in the snack cupboard. This bar seems to do no wrong. I tried this flavour after my second track workout in San Diego and loved it. I also saw these bars in Canadian grocery stores, but they are expen$ive – cashing in around $4.40. Also, the sugar content is crazy low, but betting the list of artificial ingredients isn’t as small…


The Chomping Ceremony:

Eliminated: Vega, Clif, Nakd, Vega, Picky

Safe: Simply, SoLo, ONE

The Final Three!!!


Next Time:

Hometown week: time to get to know what makes these bars the way they are

The Energy Bar Bachelorette: Episode 3

I have a confession to make. While I’m trying to keep the playing field fair, I’ve given a slight advantage to one of the contestants. Simply came with me to New Zealand .

*Gasp*

I’ve started seeing an awesome registered dietitian/sport nutritionist and she suggested these bars as a recovery option for easy(ier) training days when I wouldn’t need a big bar to recover (ex. after a pool session or short run). These bars are super tasty and have a great amount of protein – especially considering the low 150-calorie count. They remind me of “Rice Krispies treats” if they grew up, went to college, became a busy executive and started working out.

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This moment of sibling love and NZ activity brought to you by Simply Protein Bar

We (me and Simply) had a great time in New Zealand. These bars are light, crunchy, and they contain no artificial sugars. Plus they’re Canadian and come from a female founded company!!! Wow. I think my crush has grown into real feeeeeeeeelings.

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So far I’ve tried and loved the peanut butter and the maple pecan. This one even has a maple leaf on it!! How cute (& Canadian).


Two-on-One Snack Date:

Typically (in Bachelor world), there are two contestants and one bachelorette on the infamous two-on-one dates, but today there are two girls one bar (he he he). Please welcome my *special guest*, Canadian 10,000m record holder and Olympian: Natasha Wodak! T-Fierce and I brought our bars in San Diego to fuel our training camp on the recommendation of fellow Canadian runner, Catherine Watkins. Tash grabbed a coconut chocolate and I opt’d for chocolate sea salt. (Can you tell we like chocolate?)

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Wow. No BS and No flavour. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement. Disappointed, confused, wounded… These bars look great and there’s no denying that they’re a healthy option. Apparently it is too much to ask that you look great and taste great too.

Tash didn’t even finish hers, tossing it to Jack who remarked:

“I might as well have taken dirt and put it between some bran.”

– Jack, Canadian National XC team member & boyfriend of the bar bachelorette

Things are not looking good for RXBAR. I don’t know if I even want to try the mixed berry flavour I bought.


SoLo Meets my Mom:

I didn’t intend for any of the contestants to meet my family until “home town week,” but I’ve once again broken my own rules.

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Photo taken by Jocelyn

Obviously my own (protein) needs are more important than my family’s perception of a bar – but I’m close with my mom and sister and challenges could arise down the road if they don’t approve of the relationship. My mom (Jocelyn), took SoLo on a 7km snow shoe which gave them a lot of time alone together.

Upon her return, I immediately asked if she thought SoLo had enough substance to be my long term partner? She said she really enjoyed the bar’s company, but needs to get to know them a little better before she can give her blessing. It’s clear that I like SoLo (a lot) because I’m anxious for them to make a good impression on mama J and instantly feel relief when she remarks:

“SoLo was a great companion for a winter hike. Tasty. The texture was much better than any other bar I’ve tried, which I only ate because I needed to. Today I had an enjoyable snack experience and felt like I was eating something because I wanted to, not because I had to.”

– Jocelyn, Mother of the Bar Bachelorette

When I asked her what she needs in order to give her blessing, she said more flavours. Does she actually require more samples – or does she just want them? A good sign either way.  SoLo is getting a bite to the next round.


Group Date #2

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ONE bar continues to shine. I hope I’m not allowing my infatuation to cloud my judgement on if this is a realistic relationship or not. I don’t know if I’ve ever even seen the product in Canadian Stores.


temp1Invited but didn’t show up. Wow, these guys are hard to track down. You can pre-order them online, but I don’t think I’m ready to commit to a box of 12. Plus, I’m a hungry runner, I don’t have the patience for pre-ordering!!!


5After Coach Lynn’s “Brazilian Workout” I was in need of a protein pick-me-up and this was my bar of choice. TBH I was let down. Tasted very artificial and wasn’t worth the extra $krilla. I’ve tried better Quest flavours (ex. raspberry cheesecake), but I’m not in love with this one.


0022252233030_CF_version_type_largeSampled this bar post long run around a hilly lake in Cali. Tasted great, a little shy of the protein content I’m looking for but the flavour made up for it. Not sure if you can get this Luna “protein” variation in Canada? I will have to investigate.


The Chomping Ceremony:

Safe: Simply, SoLo, ONE, Picky, Nakd, Vega, & Clif

Eliminated: RXBAR, Temple, & Quest


Next Time:

WAR. SUGAR. What is it good for? How much sweetness should I have in my life? How much is too much? Time to start asking some complex (carbohydrate) questions.

The Energy Bar Bachelorette: Episode 2

 

 

Recap From Last Week:

Last week SoLo received the first impression bite and Larabar and KIND were sent back to the grocery store for not having enough protein. While reminiscing with Vector about our good times cramming for exams and recovering after track practice when I was a UBC student was fun, I have different needs now, and they were also eliminated from the competition.

One-on-one Snack #1:

The first snack date is going to… PowerBar! Aside from munching on one of these before the 4x400m relay final at World Junior Track Championships in 2012 (we finished sixth, so a solid vote of confidence), I don’t have too much experience with this brand. Before I dive in, I am going to call a friend for advice. (Like how the Bachelor/Bachelorette always get “tips” from past contestants before their season starts – TBH I dunno WHY, 99% of those relationships have failed). I am calling on Kirsten, as she has very specific protein bar needs and has been loyal to the vanilla PowerBar for years. Although I suspect she might be settling as she remarked “looks and tastes like plastic, but I’m committed.” Hmmmm… She also said the vanilla flavour can be tough to find in-store.

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Basic nutritional info: 20g protein (good – more than I need), calories 210 (seems good), sugar 14g. Number of ingredients I can’t pronounce: not as many as I thought – but more than other brands I’ve seen. Price: I found the chocolate peanut butter flavour on Amazon.ca for $3.19 per bar (OK) and the vanilla for a whopping $5! (Not OK).

Our snack date is a bit meh. I feel like I should like them more than I do. While the lemon poppyseed flavour is way better than I expected (though my expectations were low), I don’t know if we’re right for each other. Something feels a bit forced.

*Cue dramatic music.* I decide I can’t give them a bite and send them home.

GROUP DATE #1:

I’m not sure how a group date works here – I chop up a bunch of bars and sample them? Sounds good to me!


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Builder bar comes across as aggressive in the group setting. At 270 calories and 21g of sugar there’s no doubt they’re one of the biggest and sweetest bars and I’m questioning if they can meet my needs. Luna bar is a much quieter side of the Clif Conglomerate with a lower 190-200 calorie count, 8-10g sugar and 8-9g protein, while the OG Clif bar comes in at 250 calories, 10g protein and a whooping 20g of sugar. An early leader, Clif might be in trouble after this group date.


 

product-fan-bars-500-2They come from a simple background, have natural ingredients and are the lowest calorie option of the bunch. Calorie count is not a priority of my contest, but the reality of track as a sport is that size can matter – so a lighter option could present advantages. That said, I don’t want to feel hungry after a big workout! Maybe I could have these as a side bae after a light run and look to a more substantial bar for after my big workouts? However, I am looking for one brand to rule them all… I am hopeful that Simply will have more substance than I am giving them credit for.


 

ChcPB5ct1710_3DlrAtkins is not one I would have considered for this contest if they hadn’t been on a “buy two boxes for $10 special” at Safeway ($1 a bar!) They also meet my 16g protein requirement and have only 1g of sugar! And they taste fine. Fine… not a word I want to use when describing my true love. Maybe I could upgrade them to “pretty good.” This is a suitor your parents like, and everyone says their nice, buuuuttt I don’t think it’s enough. #Friendzone


838766080154_-_Vega_Sport_Protein_Bar_Single_-_Choc_Coconut_1_grandeI have tried to keep an open mind to Vega’s vegan bar but I haven’t even unwrapped it when I’m stopped by the sugar content… 16g for 15g of protein? Those numbers do not make sense to me. There are also only two flavours – so there isn’t a ton of variety happening. UGH, the turmoil is real. I decide I am being small minded and biased against vegan Vega. I shouldn’t be casting it aside without a proper trial. I vow to take Vega on a one-on-one snack and give this relationship a fair shot.


imageServiceKirkland is like the girl next door (if you lived next to a Costco). They have everything you need: not too sweet, enough protein, easy to come by. BUT… they lack a certain spark. I’m just not that into them. I don’t want to take them for granted… but I don’t know if I can get past the feeling that I want more.


 

The Chomping Ceremony:

Suspenseful last bite given to: Clif Conglomerate (in a tearful moment they reveal there is also a nut butter bar I just have to try and I am too intrigued to say no.

Safe: Clif, Simply, SoLo, Picky, Kirkland, ONE, Vega, Quest, Temple, RXBAR, Nakd

Eliminated: PowerBar, Atkins, Kirkland


Next Episode:

A shocking reveal from my trip to New Zealand and a one-on-one with RX featuring an elite *mystery guest*. Plus, SoLo meets the family before hometown week? WOW! I hope you’re hungry for the drama ahead.

The Energy Bar Bachelorette: Episode 1

 

Last week I introduced the contestants and provided some background on what I’m looking for in a protein partner (protein/nutritional content, sweetness, price). This week we find out the winner of the “first impression bite,” who will have an automatic qualification into the next round. While the first impression bite winner is the early favourite, they’re often bullied by the other contestants out of jealousy so I will have to keep an eye on the cupboard and make sure they’re all getting along.

While I’m impressed (and so flattered!) by the quality of protein bars available for me to consume, I know I must stay true to my goals and not get distracted by flashy wrappers and exotic flavours. After taking a very brief read of some of the bars nutritional information and attempting to learn where they came from, it’s time for…

The first impression bite:

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Solo bar is the winner! The dark chocolate mandarine is delicious, as is the peanut butter and mocha fudge. 

I do have concerns about if there is enough protein content here…. but our initial connection is so strong I would be crazy to deny this bar a bite.

It’s now time for the first chomping ceremony. I attempt to remember everyone’s names and wish I had Chris Harrison on hand to support me with some flashcards.

The Top Three:

 

 

 

The “Clif Conglomerate”: a classic contestant with much to offer, speculation is already circulating that Clif will be getting the first one-on-one snack date.


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Simply Protein: Excellent conversation and protein content, keen to learn more.


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ONE: I can’t deny my interest in this brand. The boarder difference is going to make a relationship a challenge… does distance ever work??!


Eliminated/Going Back to the Grocery Store:

Larabar-Bars

Larabar: the peanut butter chocolate chip tastes delicious and while I would love to eat it again, these bars just don’t have the substance I’m looking for. With my protein needs around 15g, the approx. 4g of protein in these bars it just not enough to justify keeping them past a first date


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Kind bar: like Lara, these bars are super tasty and make a great snack, but their low protein count just isn’t going to work for me after a big workout.


 

 

 

Vector: despite my love for these bars during my time at UBC, I no longer feel the same excitement for them. They are good, but there isn’t a very high protein content and there is only two flavours – which I don’t think is enough to keep the excitement alive in the years to come.


Last minute additions:

The fans have spoken! Just as the chomping ceremony was coming to a tearful close (full of promises for this to be the most dramatic Bachelor season ever), ANOTHER shopping bag arrived and out came the following *new* contestants:

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RXBAR

Recommended by elite Canadian masters runner Catherine Watkins, RX bar is all about natural ingredients and transparency. The website states “no surprises here. One look at our wrapper, and you can see what we’re all about.” IMO communication is one of the most important factor in a lasting relationship, so I’m intrigued to see if they can live up to the bold “No BS” promise.


 

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Temple

Med school student, All American hurdler, lover of penguins… I would take Katherine’s word as law. She speaks highly of Temple, but cautioned on how difficult it is to find them in-store. Honestly, this only makes me more interested. After-all, isn’t real love meant to be rare? And who doesn’t want what they can’t have?


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Nakd

TBH this one caught my eye when Ameera recommended it because of the name (like naked hehehe) and her promise of excellent performance in the “fantasy sweet” department… who could say no to that? While at first glance this bar might only be about sex appeal – there is a decent protein content too! Wow, could this contestant be beauty AND brains?


Coming Up Next Time:

The first one-on-one snack date! Which bar will it be with?  Check back next week to see what happens.

The Energy Bar Bachelorette

Hi I’m Devan. I’m a 24 year-old Canadian 800m runner and I’ve reached a stage in my athletic life where I feel the desire to settle down and commit to one protein bar.

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I’ve played the energy bar field for a few years and while I’ve had fun and been (mostly) satisfied, I’m ready to find a more meaningful relationship with one brand. I’m looking for a bar to support my nutrition/recovery needs for running, but I also need something that can be a grab-and-go snack, and tastes great.

(Is that really so much to ask for? I don’t think so).

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Protein was required in the making of this photo

 

More about my relationship with protein:

While grabbing the first bar I see on the shelf, taking advantages of sales, and having the freedom to eat whatever I want has been easy –  I now feel the pull towards something more. I’m craving a more nourishing relationship. Additionally, I started seeing an awesome registered dietitian/sport nutritionist who really opened my eyes to the importance of protein. I didn’t realize I should be eating around 15g after workouts, and incorporating protein into my snacks (I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “DUH DEVAN”). I’ve always aimed to eat “healthy,” but I really didn’t have any nutritional knowledge so I’m excited to be adding this into my training.

 

“I’m craving a more nourishing relationship.”

– Devan, the Bar Bachelorette

 

This blog series will be *loosely* based on the popular TV series “the Bachelor/Bachelorette” [which of course I only ever watch ironically, don’t get too invested in, and would never bring up at work with my CEO and have a heated debate with him over lunch!!]

What I’m looking for:

In my search for love protein, I have some qualities that the winning contestant must exemplify. I’m looking for a partner with substance (protein content), that’s sweet (but not too sweet), brings some variety to the table (flavour options) and last but not least, isn’t going to break my bank account. Ultimately, I know that to find a partner I need to be willing to overlook some criteria and accept different ways to meet my needs and I am looking forward to exploring my options.

Meet the Contestants:

The “Clif Conglomerate”: Clif, Builder, Luna

Clif brings a lot to the table. The original chocolate chip flavour stole my protein bar virginity and will always hold a special place in my heart. Builder bar packs a punch at 20g of protein, and Luna offers a lower calorie options. This should be a contestant to watch for sure. If this were the real Bachelorette, when Clif got out of the limo their practiced pick up line actually made me laugh and they looked good doing it.


 

PowerBar

Another well known name, PowerBar is no stranger to protein. But do they have the je ne sais quoi I am looking for? PowerBar comes across well on night one, doesn’t get too drunk, or say anything embarrassing, and even provides comfort to an insecure younger brand. Well played PowerBar.


KIND1

KIND

Attractive and tasty – but do they have the substance (protein content) that I need in a lasting relationship? KIND has caught my eye and I’m curious to learn more.


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Quest 

Quest is good quality and is accustomed to the high life. I don’t know if we’re at the same economic stage in our lives (They are $$$). Quest is like a strong minded independent business person who doesn’t care that some people may consider the taste “chalky” because they’re already successful AF.


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Simply Protein 

Introduced to me by my nutritionist, Simply has a solid reputation to live up to.  Will a mutual connection spark a lasting relationship? They have a maple pecan flavour so hello, I am obviously all over that.


 

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Vega

I am a little skeptical/frightened by vegan products. But this journey is going to push me out of my comfort zone. Maybe Vega is the token “crazy contestant” – could be our Chad, since he really loved eating raw yams.


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SoLo

Wow, this bar tastes great and they sponsor a ton of awesome athletes! I am intrigued to learn more about the Gi benefits too – I think we might have a first impression winner on our hands here.


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Atkins 

These bad boys are often on sale for an excellent price at Safeway and they meet my post workout protein count at 17g. TBH they’re not too exciting looking… but beauty (and protein) does come from the inside.


kicproductimage-119886.png.thumb.319.319Vector 

Ah, my college fling. I was really into these for awhile. They’ve made it into the contest because of the past – but will that be enough to give us a future?


 

Larabar-Bars

Larabar

So many flavours is dazzling, exciting, and a little distracting. I’ll have to see if they have the substance to go the distance….


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ONE 

Ah, there’s always a contestant that seems a bit out of the Bachelor/Bachelorette’s league and this would be the ONE. I sampled the Birthday Cake flavour when I was on a training trip in the US and haven’t been able to stop thinking about them… but are they just a fling? Would they be willing to move to Canada? [That didn’t work out very well for Nick & Vanessa ]


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Costco/Kirkland 

OK this one seems a bit… boring. But on paper it’s checking all the boxes. Enough protein, low sugar but still tastes good, inexpensive. I don’t know if I feel a spark… but not all relationships are love at first sight.


Picky-Bars

Picky

Another American option, these bars are beloved by my training partner Tamara and are GOOD. Plus, the founders are awesome athletes. These bars have the backstory to grab attention, and I think they could be around for the long haul.


Coming up next:

Stay tuned to find out who will get the first bite (aka the first impression rose) in Episode 1, and who will not be getting chomped and sent back to the grocery store. If you have any last minute contestant submissions shoot me a message/comment and I’ll get them in the running!

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