As a sports dietitian working with athletes and active people, I like to communicate and educate on the benefits of fueling for long duration activity, or all day events to help optimize performance. Carbohydrate during longer duration exercise > 1 hour can be a game changer in helping to preserve strength, speed, and stamina. There a lots of choices on the shelves at all price points, in all forms and a variety of flavors and textures. As a way to add some variety to your fuel mix, why not licorice?
Working with ultra athletes, endurance cyclists, marathoners and triathletes, one of the common complaints that I hear is taste fatigue and boredom with fuel choices. Granted, during exercise is not the time for a buffet, but on the other hand, what we choose should be palatable and enjoyable. If what we choose doesn’t taste good or causes gut discomfort, it won’t be consumed which can have adverse consequences on performance. Many of my athletes have turned to chews, gels, pureed fruit pouches and electrolyte enhanced jelly beans, But those items can be expensive and are not always palatable, plus some can feel tacky on the teeth or heavy on the tongue. So what is another option?
Here is a new fav of mine :Wiley Wallaby soft & chewy licorice is a tasty treat that can help prevent carbohydrate deplete during duration exercise. The recommendation for carbohydrate consumption is 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour after the first hour of exercise. In addition, a mix of carbohydrate may help to prevent digestive distress. Wiley Wallaby licorice per 3 piece serving delivers:
22 grams of carbohydrate in the form of sugar and corn syrup ( glucose and fructose)
12 grams of sugar
Very low fat
With a flavor and texture profile that brings variety to the palate without sticking to the teeth.
This would be great for all day events such as track meets, baseball tournaments, swim meets, or soccer tournaments as a portable, non-perishable, affordable and palatable fueling choice between games or events.
There are many other products on the market but some are higher in sugar and also higher in price.
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As with any other carbohydrate source during exercise, it is also important to not over do and to make sure to optimally hydrate. You can put the licorice into small bags in 3 piece portions and add it to your fueling rotation and follow with appropriate hydration.
So think out of the bag and broaden your activity fueling menu to bring the function and flavor to your chews to help you cruise.
Leslie Bonci, MPH,RDN,CSSD,LDN is a registered dietitian and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who has worked with recreational to professional athletes, including Iron man finishers and the Kansas City Chiefs. She is the owner of Active Eating Advice by Leslie and co-founder of Performance365- a sports nutrition consulting company