By Harriet Mallinson | Published on May 27, 2017
Rather than reaching for a shiny and bold tub of protein powder before you head out for your workout, you may want to opt for a humble (and much cheaper) packet of raisins.
Studies have shown that dried grapes not only have similar performance effects to sports gel and energy bars but they are actually a superior alternative due to their health benefits.
California raisins Registered Dietitian Nichola Whitehead said: “Small yet mighty, California raisins are a source of fibre and contain a variety of different vitamins, and minerals including potassium and iron. They are a natural source of energy and have a medium glycaemic index, meaning they release their energy more slowly than many processed foods.
“California raisins contain only naturally occurring sugars with an amazing caramelised sweet flavour, which they get from being naturally sun-dried. They have no added artificial flavours or colours, and just 30g or a small handful of raisins counts as 1 of your 5 a day so they’re the ideal snack for those training or in need of a natural snack.”
A study carried out on endurance trained cyclists by the Department of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, University of California compared the consumption of a commercial sports gel (a high glycaemic index food) versus raisins (a moderate to low glycaemic index food).
While there was no different in the cyclists’ performance, there were more free fatty acids after the pre-exercise ingestion of raisins. This increase in the free fatty acids indicates that raisins subtly, but favourably, improved metabolism.
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A further benefit of raisins over sports supplements is that they provide micronutrients, an acid-neutralizing load to the kidneys and are a more cost effective and convenient food for use during exercise.
A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics with athletes who were given raisins, sports chews and water whilst doing an 80-minute treadmill run followed by a 5km timed trail, achieved similar performance results, yet it was concluded that raisins provide a nutrient dense, all natural carbohydrate source which contains more vitamins and minerals overall.
Furthermore, The American College of Cardiology found that eating a few raisins three times per day significantly lowers blood pressure. Plus, they’re a natural source of energy and are much more cost effective.
7 reasons why athletes should eat California raisins
- Raisin packets are small and pocket sized so won’t take up much room in a rucksack or bike saddle bag.
- They are a healthier, yet satisfying sweet alternative to an energy bar, plus much more versatile (throw them in your porridge, couscous, bread and butter pudding… you name it).
- They are cheaper than manufactured energy bars, sports gels and chews and are easily sourced at your local supermarket.
- Raisins are totally natural and unprocessed so you don’t need to worry about many nasties you might be ingesting.
- They are a source of fiber which is needed to aid heart-health and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Raisins contain a variety of different vitamins and minerals including potassium (which enhances muscle strength, metabolism, water balance, electrolytic functions and the nervous system) and iron (which metabolizes proteins and plays a role in the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells).
- They are a natural source of energy with a medium glycaemic index, meaning they release their energy more slowly than many processed foods.
- A handful (30g) of raisins counts as one of your 5-a-day
Harriet is Editor of MACROS and perfectly capable of eating an entire log of goat’s cheese in one sitting.