If you consider yourself an athlete and you haven’t heard of Allen Lim, PhD or Skratch Labs, it is time for you to get acquainted. Not only did Dr. Lim co-author two real-food cookbooks for athletes, he is an intelligent sports physiologist and cycling coach.
Recently, Dr. Lim posted a video on why real food is better than gels, blocks, and sports bars. In the video he discusses an experiment he did comparing popular pre-packaged exercise foods to real foods. His main point is that pre-packaged foods are very dry, containing 3-10% water, whereas real foods contain 60-80% water.
Those dry pre-packaged foods essentially promote dehydration, because they require water to exit the bloodstream and enter the gut to dilute the concentration of nutrients before they can be absorbed and used. This process can potentially lead to bloating and cramping.
On the other hand, when real foods are eaten instead, their high water content reduces or eliminates this dehydration effect, allowing the calories, glucose, and other nutrients to enter the bloodstream and be put to use more readily.
Give it a try for yourself. Plan to make these Portable Oat Muffins on a rest day or weekend and freeze them for a real food exercise snack that is perfect for before, during, or after a workout. Just throw as many as you wish in a plastic bag and stuff in your back pocket or hydration pack.
Always remember to experiment with new foods during training, not just before or during a race. You may find that real food causes you less bloating and cramping, making it worth the extra time it takes to prepare them.
Portable Oat Muffins
Makes 12 muffins | Recipe by Lauren Larson
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
½ cup dried fruit (raisins, craisins, chopped dates, chopped apricots, cherries, or blueberries)
¼ cup oat flour*
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped nuts or seeds (walnuts, pecans, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 ½ cups almond milk
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
*Oat flour can be made by grinding ~1/3 cup rolled oats in a high speed blender or food processor.
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a 12-muffin tin with liners or lightly grease and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine oats, dried fruit, oat flour, brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a separate medium bowl, combine egg, almond milk, applesauce, honey, coconut oil or butter, and vanilla extract.
4. Add milk mixture to oat mixture and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 5 minutes to thicken slightly.
5. Using a spoon, fill 12 lined or oiled muffin cups about 2/3-3/4 of the way with batter.
6. Transfer to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until edges are golden brown and firm in the center. Let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
7. Freeze for an on the go breakfast, snack, or workout snack anytime, or refrigerate for up to one week. Eat cold, at room temperature, or reheat for 1-2 minutes in the microwave.
Each muffin contains about 160 calories, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein.
Lauren Larson is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a comprehensive private nutrition practice focused on sports nutrition-related diet and lifestyle modifications for active and athletic people. She is a passionate endurance athlete, avid trail runner, cyclist, and triathlete.