Monday, August 6, 2012

Climber Food: JayBars

I've decided to categorize (some of) my entries -- because like most humans, I have an affinity for putting things in categories. Sometime over the next week I'll go back and change the titles ... if I remember.

Part of my quest to live a paleo lifestyle involves integrating the paleo/primal diet into my mountaineering endeavors -- which can be a challenge at times! Most pre-packaged "climber food" has at least one or two non-paleo things in it, and while some things (i.e. canola oil and corn starch in a Mountain House Buffalo Chicken meal) are probably less harmful than others (i.e. virtually everything in a Pop-Tart ... a popular breakfast option among many climbers I've met), the products that I consume while climbing are still something I think about quite a bit.

So when I see a new product that is at least marginally paleo-friendly, like these JayBars, I figure I might as well buy a couple and give them a try.

 I enjoyed a fudge brownie bar on my climb of Mt. Baker last week, and my general thoughts were:

The Pros:
- Very filling. Regardless of calorie content, it's difficult to find a snack bar that can really fill me up when I'm climbing.
- High protein content. With 14g of protein, this bar has more than any other snack bar I've found.
- Good source of protein (whey protein isolate). The Kind "+Protein" bars have soy crisps, and I try to stay away from soy if at all possible. While protein powder-esque things aren't strictly paleo, I'd prefer whey or egg protein over soy any day.
- Taste. While it doesn't taste exactly like a fudge brownie, it's much more palatable than most other protein bars.
- Weight. It is small and light -- definitely something to consider, especially when planning for an expedition or multi-day trip.
- Gluten free.
- Soy free.

The Cons:
- It isn't totally paleo. But then again, it's a snack bar, and most snack bars aren't.
- Xylitol. Sugar alcohols are something I have mixed feelings about, but generally try to avoid. Also, in large quantities, sugar alcohols can cause gastro-intestinal discomfort, so I probably wouldn't want to eat more than one of these per day (especially when climbing at higher altitudes ... that causes enough of those problems as it is).
- Agave syrup. It might be natural, but it has a high fructose content.

The Verdict:
JayBars seem to be a good option for multi-day trips and expeditions, but I wouldn't bring them on overnight trips or day hikes/climbs. The reality of expedition climbing is that it's going to be impossible to eat totally paleo, so the pros definitely outweigh the cons in this case as far as that is concerned.

So, chow down and climb on!

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