Monday, December 29, 2014

Review of @ClifBar Builder's Protein Bars

If you pay attention to your Facebook or Twitter feed, you undoubtedly see all kinds of add and posts about the need for high levels of protein in your diet. Whether you’re a weekend 5ker, Ironman, cross fitter or obstacle course racer, every fitness related food maker and their dog are racing to get their latest and greatest protein products in your hands. If you’re at all interested in eating better to go along with all those hours you swim, bike and run, then you have probably realized the importance of eating the right combination of fats, carbs and protein. It’s not just about the protein. It’s a delicate dance of factors from desired weight to expected race performance. If you’re not fueling the engine right with more than just protein, it doesn’t matter how many hours you train to reach your goals.

No doubt you also like to enjoy your snacks rather than just get the essential nutrition out of them, unless you’ve really bought into paleo and want to eat like a caveman. What can make the task of proper fueling even more difficult is the specter of the average triathlete being on the go with work, family and friends. Not everyone has easy access to a kitchen with whole food ingredients at their fingertips for every meal. Most need a convenient meal on the go that won’t make a mess that they can jam in their face between meetings in the morning or afternoon.

CLIF bar was gracious enough to send a sample of Builder’s Protein Bars for a review as an alternative for easy access to good fuel with a handsome dose of protein.

Read on for our take on the 8 flavors minus the new chocolate hazelnut of Builder’s Bars that CLIF sent us.

 

Packaging / Shelf Appeal / Marketing


When you hear the name, “Builder’s Bar”, we immediately think of that body builder dude pumping iron at the gym, screaming at the top of his lungs for that last set of 300 pound bench presses. So yes, the bar might be geared for muscle heads looking for protein substitute instead of raw meat, but for triathletes spending some hard time working out at high intensity levels, they need that protein as well to repair and feed muscles. When you see the bars, they are packaged in a powerful wrapper that’s bold and attention grabbing, like the name. Who doesn’t like something shiny to unwrap? It’s also convenient to throw in a gym bag or the glove box (careful as they will melt on hot days) and not lose track of. The package won’t tear or snag as it’s sturdy construction.

 

Form / Construction


When you open the Builder’s Bar, the majority are chocolate flavors, so they appear similar to your standard candy bar with a chocolate coating and a crunchy bottom layer. For those that like the crunchy candy bars, it won’t be far off. They are not the other protein bars that are solid and chewy that sometimes can get gritty as you break them down to be able to swallow.



The Builder’s Bars weigh in at 270 calories or so per bar. Of that, 9 grams is fat, 29 grams is carbs and 20 grams is protein if you are keeping count at home. So, don’t just add the Builder’s Bar into your daily diet without planning. It’s almost half a decent sized meal to begin with. It has a good protein to carb ratio, but it will steal some calories from your daily meal planning. That may almost be more than most candy bars calorie wise, but you will get around 40 grams of carbs and 4 grams of protein from a candy bar which is hardly the proper nutrition for an athlete or fitness minded person.

An important item of note is that the bars have zero grams trans fat and does not contain partially-hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup. In today’s ever over engineered food work where taste and profit are king, some are still finding ways to deliver good food without all the crap.

Fit / Function


Yes, they have a good chunk of protein, but do they deliver on taste and fill you up / fuel you up / help you recover like you would anticipate?

With protein bars, taste and texture are the big hangups. Everyone wants the benefits of the protein, but not everyone appreciates the method of delivery. While Builder’s Bars aren’t going to be as tasty as a Snickers bar, they are much better than some chewy protein bars on the market that get all grainy after chewing on each bite for 5 minutes to break it down enough to swallow. They taste like the flavor printed on the package and have a nice crisp texture that doesn’t require jaws of steel. The real issue is limiting yourself to one bar and not using them as a go-to snack substitute or dessert item.

They do fill you up for the short term, which makes them a great snack item between meals. Used before a cardio workout or after a strength workout, they can be key meals to keep your body fueled and reduce injuries from undernourished muscles. We would not recommend the Builder’s Bars as a meal substitute unless you are in a bind. They just won’t fill you up for hours on end.


They have 9 flavors currently to choose from, so if chocolate isn’t your thing, you have options. They are great for throwing in your gym bag for a pre or post workout snack and they even stay in one piece in bags being thrown into your car or jammed in a gym locker. They only drawback will be on hot days, they will melt and make a mess. Best is to not leave them sitting in your car during the summer.

 

Cost


You could spend $1 for a snickers, or $1.50 (online) for a Builder’s Bar. At the convenience store, you might pay a little more if you’re in a pinch, but plan ahead and you should be ok. That’s one catch with Builder’s Bars, they aren’t cheap, but they can be less expensive than other protein bar alternatives. Some can go from $2 to $2.50 a bar online, and even more in the brick and mortar stores.

You do get what you pay for. You may end up spending more for a Builder’s Bar than a candy bar, but you’ll get higher quality nutrition and not a crap sugar load.

Final thoughts


You know you have a winner when you review a product and you end up buying it outside of the review with your own money. We have since stocked up on Builder’s Bars to be proactive and get them at a reasonable price instead of convenience store prices. One a day will do it, as they do consume a large chunk of calories, but when you need 170 grams of protein a day, and you don’t want to get it all through egg whites and tuna fish, the Builder’s Bar is a good alternative. You just need to be careful about trading it out for other foods in your meal planning and not adding it on and expecting to lose weight.

Disclaimer


* Writer's note - CLIF Bars sent us the Builder’s Bars for this review and in no way influenced the review.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Quest Protein Chip by @QuestNutrition Review

If you’re at all interested in eating better to go along with all those hours you swim, bike and run, then you have probably realized the importance of eating the right combination of fats, carbs and protein. It’s a delicate dance of factors from desired weight to expected race performance. If you’re not fueling the engine right, it doesn’t matter how many hours you train to overcome that.

But, how do you make sure you are getting what you need from your healthy snacks without sacrificing taste and appeal? Not everyone can kick back a can of tuna and a cup of cottage cheese and “enjoy” it. We’re all human. We like to enjoy taste and texture of what we eat.

There are all kinds of approaches from paleo to all natural grass fed no antibiotic hand combed cows and chickens, but lets get real. This day and age, if you want unaltered ingredients or something “simple”, you’re looking at higher prices and something that virtually financially unsustainable for a family. If it’s not mass produced and chalked full of preservatives for shelf life, it’s going to cost more.

In the never ending quest to find healthy snack alternatives, we found Quest Protein Chips. It’s kind of an oxymoron when you first come upon them. We found them at our gym and decided to buy a couple and give them a spin. We’ve heard of the bars they produce, and my wife loves them, but we were skeptical that a chip could be advertised as healthy.

Read on for our take on the Sour Cream and Cheddar and BBQ flavors.

Packaging / Shelf Appeal / Marketing


The packaging and images actually make you want to eat what’s inside. Not all health foods or those that pretend have the right marketing scheme. Some throw pictures of mascots and other junk not even related to the food inside that distract you from the real mission, finding quality food.

The picture on the package is pretty true to what the ships look like, unless your 4 year old sat on the bag in the car or punched it out of your hands when they were impatiently waiting to leave the gym waiting on you to pay for the chips. It happens. They still eat the same as whole chips or crushed pieces.


Form / Construction


Where the rubber meets the road. Are they full of crap? Do they have the advertised 21 grams of protein per serving and double the carbs? What are you getting for your $2.99 at the gym counter?

INGREDIENTS: Protein Blend (Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate), Dried Potatoes, Corn Starch, High Oleic Sunflower Oil. Contains less than 2% of the following: Tomato Powder, Onion Powder, Paprika, Garlic Powder, Spices, Salt, Paprika Extract (Color), Yeast Extract, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Flavors. CONTAINS: Milk Derived Ingredients

The bags say right on the front : NO SOY, GLUTEN FREE, 5G CARBS, 21G PROTEIN, BAKED NEVER FRIED



Pretty much all you need to know is on the front of the bag, but for you macronutrient counters, they have in 32 grams per serving (1 bag), 120 calories, 2g of fat, 5g of carbs and 21g of protein. For a quick snack on the go for the fitness types, that’s a quality 120 calories. I know I’m always looking for meals and snacks that won’t blow the calorie budget that give me my best protein ratio. Compare that with a not-to-be-named baked BBQ chip, 28g serving, 120 calories, 3g of fat, 22g of carbs and 2g of protein. The fat looks good, but you’ve just broke the bank for carbs without much protein benefit. Get ready to skimp on dinner to save your day nutrition wise. Hello tuna on a plate...

 

Fit / Function


Do Quest Chips go down easy, or do you have to choke them down like so many chalky protein powders and drinks that are out there?



I’m here to tell you they taste as good as any chip out there. They have that baked / popped chip look and light density when you bite into one. They crunch and that sweet nectar of cheddar or BBQ that you crave will be there for the taking. Consider your craving for crap satisfied, but you didn’t have to sacrifice your soul for the nutritional deficit that comes with most chips.

Cost


Where’s the catch you ask? We get taste and nutrition!? Well, it’s not free. We paid for these out of pocket, no freebie reviews, and at $2.99 a bag at the gym, it can get pricey. Your generic chips can go around $4 for 6 to 7 servings. Quest chips are $3 for 1 serving. Eat wisely, my friend. You get what you pay for.

 

Final thoughts


We will continue to buy Quest Chips. Santa may even drop a few in our stockings. If anyone could benefit from a healthier chip, it would be the big man from the north.

The taste and texture is spot on, the shelf appeal is there. It’s got all of the right ingredients, but you will pay a premium for 21 grams of protein, only 5 grams of carbs in 120 calories. You have to decide that if your chip craving can be satisfied for $3 a pop. Used wisely, this is a great alternative for a midday snack, or a companion to your meal. It holds you over for a tough workout without being too full, and serves well as a post-workout meal to replenish protein to rebuild muscle. That’s a big benefit in the winter months as most multi-sport athletes head to the gym for strength and conditioning.

Grab a bag and try for yourself, just don’t sit on them.

 

Disclaimer


* Writer's note - We purchased the chips for this review and Quest in no way influenced this review.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Xterra wetsuit sale - Use code "C-STPM" and 7 percent goes to Tri4aHandUp.com when buying $99 volt sleeveless wetsuit!

Our great www.Tri4aHandUp.com partner, Xterra wetsuits, is having a sale!  In the spirit of raising funds for Tri 4 a Hand Up charities.

Get their Volt Sleeveless for $99 or Vortex Fullsuit for $163 until the end of today!


Use code "C-STPM" at checkout to get the sale price.

Check out the deals below and hit www.xterrawetsuits.com and use code "C-STPM" at checkout to get the best price!  Also remember that Xterra will donate 7 percent of all sales with the code to Tri4aHandUp charities!  We don't keep a dime!




Thanks for the support!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Updates / Races / DNS / Ride to Give / Prayers for Triston / Ironman Chattanooga - #‎TeamRTG‬ ‪#‎IMChattanooga‬ ‪#‎raceday

So, posts are few and far between, so I will try and bring you up to speed.

After Ironman Kansas 70.3, the only race I had signed up for was a local fun race, Shawnee Mission Triathlon.  It's a nice park that is totally closed off for the race.  No traffic.  Raced many times.  Problem was that this race seems to get cancelled or cut short for weather every other year.  This year we were about to swim over to the swim start area to line up and bam, started raining and some lightening.  Nothing wild, but enough to delay and they eventaully cancelled the race.  I headed to the gym to race an indoor triathlon instead of waiting around until 9am to see if they called it off.  Glad I did since they did can the race.

SM Tri was the only other triathlon I was signed up for until Chattanooga.  I eyed a few local events and even volunteered with my mini-me at one, but opted not to stress out the homefront with a race and save the entry fee for travel for IM Chattanooga.

No pressure on IM Chattnooga since I only had 4 triathlons on the schedule.  Texas = DNF.  KS = finished with PR. SM Tri = Cancelled.  IM Choo = ????

Speaking of IM Choo, as you may notice, I teamed up with Ride to Give to raise funds for racing IM Choo and orginally selected Mended Little Hearts as my charity partner.  Well, we did some recon and decided it would work out better to select a child with a need rather than a broad organization.  That's when we switched to Prayers for Triston.  Trison is a sweet little boy that lives south of St Louis, MO, with his family that was born with a severe congenital heart defect (CHD).  By the grace of god, he made it through some tough times, but his family is barely keeping ahead of his medical needs.  We're hoping to help pick up a little slack by raising funds to help offset their financial needs.  Read on for my journey thus far and think about donating!

The journey has begun...


So Wednesday was the start of Ironman Triathlon attempt 3 journey. First completed was Lake Tahoe in 2013 (2014 was cancelled last week from smoke from an arson fire). Second attempted was Texas 2014 in May which saw me unable to continue at mile 14 on the run (after completing the 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride) due to severe cramps and dehydration. IM Tahoe was nice with a less hectic work situation and I was able to focus on attempt 1 and feel pretty confident I could finish it. Texas I wondered what winter training would get me and I thought I was going to get it done without many problems. I spent 3 days before at a work deal in Tulsa and then drove until like 5am to get to Texas and it was shoe-horned in and not that great of a journey.

The Chattanooga journey this year has been complicated with a new job for me and Emily and both kids in school and growing up. It's been a balancing act and I believe I'm ready, but took some time off this week so it wasn't crammed in. I'm in Paducah, KY, tonight and then driving the last 4 hours tomorrow morning straight to packet pickup and then hopefully some light workouts and enjoying the experience. Unfortunately it will only be me as Emily had to work and it just didn't work out to bring an entourage.

But, along the way was a good omen, the Little Debbie trailer on a truck headed the same way. Since Little Debbie is the sponsor for Ironman Chattanooga, I figured I was in good hands on the drive in.


I also made a stop in Ste. Genevieve, MO, and drove through Cairo, IL. What’s interesting about each of those? One was to meet a special bud and the other was like the town that withered and blew away.

When I drove through Ste. Genevieve (an hour south of St Louis, MO), it struck me as an odd place to have a large little town. I didn’t really see any good reason why someone would settle in that area and then have the town grow around it. I actually went to google to find out more, cause as we all know, the internet is always right. Founded by French Canadian colonists, it was the first organized European settlement west of the Mississippi River in present-day Missouri. It was founded for farming mainly and later moved inland a little to avoid flooding. Why am I going on about this? I found it interesting to find someplace so steeped in colonial heritage. You could see it in the buildings and town layout and was refreshing to see a place rich with heritage being kept alive. Even better than the history lesson was the chance to meet the little guy I dedicated my fundraising to with Ride to Give. Triston and his family live in Ste. Genevieve, MO, which was pretty much right on the way to Paducah. Emily had met them all before and participated in many CHD awareness events and events specifically to help with Triston’s medical and financial needs. It was the first time I met him in person and he is quite the cuddler. He’d make a great snuggle buddy in the fall for football watching on the couch, or Mickey Mouse, which is his preference. He seemed to be fascinated with facial hair and checks out everyone’s hair versus is curly locks by running his fingers through them. He’s definitely a lover, and a CHD fighter.

Don’t forget about the fundraiser for Triston! We are $2920 away from our $5000 goal, with half going to Triston and his family to help with expenses to keep Triston moving in the right direction. https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6b2s7 - I really need any help I can get to get to the goal and all donations are tax deductable.


A small side note was driving through Cairo, IL. It was basically an abandoned city that looked like it had flourished at one point, but now on its way to being completely uninhabited. Cairo is the southernmost city in the U.S. state of Illinois. Cairo has the lowest elevation of any location within Illinois and is the only city in the state surrounded by levees. This part of Illinois is known as Little Egypt. Several blocks in the town comprise the Cairo Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The Old Customs House is also on the NRHP. The city is part of the Cape Girardeau−Jackson, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population at the 2010 census was 2,831, a significant decline from its peak population of 15,203 in 1920. At its peak it had a huge ferry, train and trade industry. It had no bridges to cross the river so the town was basically built to support getting people and supplies across the river. Once they built several bridges, the town basically dried up. It was just kind of sad to drive through and see the history and see its active fading into oblivion. It was a unique look into American history and how the impact of progress actually made a 15,000 person city obsolete.


I'm here!  I'm actually in Chattnooga finally!

I got in Thursday and headed straight to athlete check-in to get that out of the way. I’ve been on the second day and it’s a zoo, so I wanted to make sure to check that off the list asap. So far I’ve checked in, set up in the hotel, ran a quick 3 miler and chilled. Well, I did a little work too… bleh.

CARB LOADING!

Today I’m scoping out areas to get a quick bike ride in to make sure the setup is all good and then hit the athlete dinner. The main goal is to not spend too much time on my feet and make sure everything is ready.

Being the 3rd full Ironman race I’m getting ready for, it’s a mix of “I kind of know what’s going on” and “it’s going to be great at the finish line, but it’s a long day to get there”. 112 miles (actually 116 since they had to modify the course for traffic issues) is no joke. I’ve heard it’s a “fast” course which hopefully translates into “not killing myself to get it done”. Forecasts have us starting around 65 degrees in the morning with a high barely getting to 80 degrees. They also are slipping in some rain towards the late afternoon / evening. As long as I’m dry on the bike, whatever works.

It’s odd being here and going through the experience while life continues as always for everyone back home. Emily, my Mom and my Aunt have it a little more difficult without me at home and juggling kid patrol. I am experiencing the “Fear of Missing Out”, but trying to stay focused on what I came here to do.

Speaking of my to-do list, we are getting “closer” to the $5000 goal for Ride to Give and Triston. How about that transition? We have surpassed the $2000 mark at $2080, $2920 to go. I know that it will take a miracle to get it all by the end of Sunday, but consider any donation amount, nothing is too small. Check it out at https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6b2s7.

Maybe every time you check out my status during the race Sunday (bib 1679), you donate $1? That would be cool.

Regardless of donations, thank you to all that have supported me and worked around my travel to help with my family while I’m gone.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Xterra wetsuit sale - Use code "C-STPM" and 7 percent goes to Tri4aHandUp.com when buying Kona edition speedsuit!

Our great www.Tri4aHandUp.com partner, Xterra wetsuits, is having a sale!  In the spirit of raising funds for Tri 4 a Hand Up charities, we have 6 days until Ironman Chattanooga and still have around $3200 to raise before then (not impossible, right?)

Get their new 2014 Kona edition speedsuit starting at $149 with two shipping until Sept 23rd!

The countdown to Kona and Maui has begun.. With less than 30 days until Kona, and less than 60 days until Maui, Xterra is happy to unveil their new speedsuit. They're pre-selling them, and if you're headed to Kona, they will be bringing them to hand off to you! If you need it in time for KONA, when you get to the check out section, please enter "KONA" in the company line during checkout! If you're not racing KONA, check out their $237 Vector Pro wetsuit, and of course the always loved $159 Vortex Fullsuit.

Use code "C-STPM" at checkout to get the sale price.

Check out the deals below and hit www.xterrawetsuits.com and use code "C-STPM" at checkout to get the best price!  Also remember that Xterra will donate 7 percent of all sales with the code to Tri4aHandUp charities!  We don't keep a dime!




Thanks for the support!