I got my hands on a sampler pack of Bearded Brother Bars (hereinafter “BBBs”) recently. After trying my first one, it was all I could do to not go Cookie Monster on the lot. I’ve always been into fueling naturally, but I have also tried a lot of the mainstream bars out there. Typically, my reaction has been “Blech! How am I going to choke the rest of this thing down?” Not so with BBBs.
A few disclaimers – I was provided these samples basically for the cost of shipping them too me. If you think that clouds my objectivity, you don’t know how cheap I am. I’m not a nutritionist, or even a supertaster (although my wife is). So, this isn’t going to read like some pretentious Wine Spectator review. I typically train “fasting,” but I do eat at other times. I will take in some calories before a hard and/or long run (18+ or lots of goal pace miles or both).
I am not going to make any outrageous claims about the performance-enhancing benefits of these bars. Do BBBs work? You bet. Each bar gave me about 200-250 calories. So why BBB? Simply put, they’re yummy and natural. You can’t say that about very many energy bars. If you can’t gag it down, you’re not fueling.
What’s in ’em: dried fruits and seeds generally. Some varieties have nuts, some are nut free (because sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t … feel like going into anaphylactic shock).
Here’s a representative nut-free flavor, “Radical Raspberry Lemon”:
What ain’t in ’em: non-organic ingredients, GMOs, soy, animals and animal products (things that vegans don’t eat), gluten, un-raw things (that have all their goodness cooked out of them), unnatural stuff – no unpronounceable names here – no chemistry degree required!
How did I use them? Like I said, I typically train in a fasting state. That’s a fancy way of saying that I don’t eat anything before I go for my morning run. Given that most training runs are less than 15 miles, you are never going to run out of glycogen at those distances. Thus, all the fuss about fueling is usually much ado about nothing. I tend to scoff at people who are headed out for a 5 mile run while carrying a half gallon of Gatorade and 5 GUs (umm, net gain?). On the other hand, replacing glycogen stores after training is a good thing – I usually take in some carbs as part of my post-training meal, usually in the form of fruit. However these BBBs are a delicious and convenient alternative. That’s when I ate most of them – right after getting back from a run. Mmm-mmm good.
The most challenging test for any “fuel” is how your body will tolerate it when it’s in your gut during a run. I put both the “Mighty Maca Chocolate” and “Bodacious Blueberry Vanilla” BBBs to this test. I ate one bar right before each of two different challenging long runs and I’m happy to report that my tummy didn’t complain a bit. If anything, it said “thanks!” Each BBB was joined by a double espresso with heavy whipping cream and a glass of water pre-run. I felt great on both runs.
Oh yeah, what’s maca, you ask?
Maca powder is claimed to have certain *ahem* benefits as a supplement, although the BBB folks aren’t making that claim on their packaging, so don’t misunderstand me or them. Nevertheless, being the curious sort, when my copy of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology came in the mail recently (kidding!) I noticed a article titled: “A pilot investigation into the effect of maca supplementation on physical activity and sexual desire in sportsmen.” Here’s a link to an abstract. Male cyclists completed a before-and-after 40km time trial, and also a sexual desire inventory. Supplementation improved both. Since it’s a natural and somewhat obscure supplement, the mechanisms of action are as of yet unknown. Your results may vary.
Anyhow, if you’re not into that, this is the only flavor that has the powder, if I’m not mistaken. It was my favorite though, with blueberry nearly tied for the top spot.
I also quite enjoyed the “Colossal Coconut” and “Fabulous Ginger Peach” (probably the most flavorful – I love ginger!). I even liked the “Outrageous Orange Kale” but it doesn’t seem to be available at the moment. Maybe it’s not kale season in TX right now.
Apparently, I liked them so much that I forgot to take a picture of one of them before consuming them all. I’ve just got wrappers. However, the sense they appeal to is not sight.
How much did I like these?
- I wanted to consume all of them at once.
- I wanted to ration them out so they would last longer (yep, I’m an enigma).
- I didn’t share.
- After they were gone, I found myself checking my pantry to see if perhaps I missed one.
I’m going to have to get some more!