Outdoor nutrition tends to focus on carbs, carbs and more carbs. Usually the simpler the better. Looking for something a little more balanced I tried Wholly Oats by Optimum Nutrition.
Hiking and carbohydrates seem inextricably linked – and for good reason. Long hikes require sustained energy to fuel the working muscles, which carbohydrates provide. As I have been working on some strength and conditioning training lately I was looking for a trail snack which provided some protein to minimise muscle breakdown on those gruelling day-long hikes which wear the body down. With 21 grams of protein per bar, ON Wholly Oats seemed a suitable solution.
Protein – 21g Carbohydrate – 37g Fat – 7g Calories – 263kcal (Per 77 Bar)
The bars are quite weighty – weighing in at 77 grams each and given their compact size it’s unsurprising that they are quite chewy and dense. They’ll survive knocking around at the top of your pack all day and won’t break up or crumble. Their high density does make them difficult to chew on the move, but along with plenty of water from your bladder pack they are definitely a great deal more satisfying then energy gels or powders. If you have the time to stop a mug of hot tea softens the bar quite nicely and makes for a very enjoyable snack.
While it would be unrealistic to expect these to taste like butter & sugar laden flapjacks, they do taste great and I’ve never felt like I’ve had to force myself to finish one off.
As the name suggests the bar’s carbohydrate content comes primarily from the inclusion of oats, giving a slow sustained release of energy, rather than the quick spike / drop imparted by energy gels or dextrose tablets. The chocolate and peanut butter add some flavour while adding to the energy content and generally help to mask the inevitable chalkiness which comes with the inclusion of protein in bar format.
I have taken these bars on multiple long distance hikes in addition to quick overnight camps or short notice trips where nutrition would otherwise be overlooked. I have found the carbohydrate from the oats helps keep me going, while the protein content helps mitigate soreness, spare lean muscle from breakdown and generally leads to a greater feeling of satiety than I would get from a sugary low protein alternative.
While protein bar products are traditionally targeted at gym-goers and strength athletes – for those looking for a balanced snack to fuel outdoor activities and preserve hard-earned muscle tissue Wholly Oats bars are an excellent choice well worth considering.
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