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Athletic Fuel: Candy for athletes


Looking for a “sports candy” that’s a “real food”?

Commercial sports candies are nothing but pure sugar. If you prefer an “all natural” alternative, think about dates. Yes, those bite-sized brown fruits that appear in holiday date-nut breads are actually great fuel during endurance exercise! During hikes, winter snowshoe treks, bike rides, and even long runs, snacking on dates provides a highly nutritious source of carbs for fuel, while providing your body with wholesome goodness.

Dates are a very rich source of anti-oxidants and bioactive compounds that help fight inflammation. They also offer potassium, calcium, magnesium, and many other vitmains and minerals. If you choose Medjool dates (a specific variety of dates), they have a creamy texture that is not too dry. The moistness can translate into “sticky fingers”; to avoid that inconvenience, simply shake some raw oatmeal (or blenderized oats, made into oat flour) into the baggie in which you carry the dates. Solves the problem!

In general, when choosing fruits, you want to think about eating a variety of colors. (You know, red apples, blue berries, orange oranges, etc.) Each color offers different bioactive compounds. Dates fulfill the “brown” color. Give ‘em a try! Diced dates are yummy on cereal, in salads, as a part of trail mix, and combined with peanut butter for pop-in-your mouth bliss. Disclosure: I recently attended a yummy dinner sponsored by Medjool Date growers: ( They didn’t have to work hard to convince me these are great sports foods. I’d just made some date-nut Bread earlier that day!

Fuel wisely and feel great!

Written by: Nancy Clark MS RD has a private practice in the Boston-area where she teaches athletes one-on-one how to eat to win. She is author of the best-selling Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

Keep up on the #AthleticFuel series with this hashtag on social media.

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