Fueling With Real Food Series, Part 1: Dates

In my relatively short running experience, one thing that I’ve learned is that as much as I like to fuel long runs with gels and sports drinks, they don’t always like me. They give me horrible stomach pains and as convenient as they are,  the hippie in me would rather fuel with foods that are natural and have ingredients that I can pronounce rather than something created in a lab.

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So over the next several weeks I’ll be trying, reviewing, and recommending alternatives foods to fuel with. I’ll even be doing some giveaways, so stayed tuned!

My first review of food to fuel with is dates.

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Dates are a really great food to fuel with because they are small, don’t need refrigeration, and have a lot of carbohydrates and potassium, both which are essential for fuel on a long run. Potassium is essential in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Compared to a banana, an equal serving of medjool dates provides almost twice as much potassium (696mg vs 358mg) and over three times the amount of carbohydrates (75g vs 23g).

When I go for a run first thing in the morning, I’ll usually have a banana, but I’ve been experimenting with dates and I can say that they work really well. I’ll eat a couple of them before heading out the door and because they’re so small, I don’t feel over full and I have enough energy to get me through my run. I also use dates as a post workout recovery snack. I almost feel guilty eating them because they are so indulgent. Medjool dates are really soft and creamy and pretty much melt in your mouth, so I have no problem eating them while running or biking. They are also small enough to put in my FlipBelt which is bonus points for the convenience factor and a 2 lb package only cost $10, which is a bargain compared to gels.

On a scale from 1 to 10, I give dates a perfect 10! Watch out though, because if you like the taste of dates they can be very addicting!

Have you ever tried dates? What’s your favorite way to fuel a long run?

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