When does a nutrition bar become a true, performance-enhancing food? When it's made like this.
How Was That Possible?!
Working at T Nation headquarters in Colorado has a lot of advantages. First, I get to use the private T Nation gym. Pretty sweet. Second, I get to work from the same building as our sister company, Biotest Labs.
A while back, Biotest received a big delivery of product – a huge pallet of Finibars in unmarked white wrappers. In case you don't know, good supplements companies do what are called "pilot runs" of their products to test for things like flavor and texture and make sure everything is up to snuff before they produce millions of them.
The pilot run turned out great and production was cranked up. But that big pallet of Finibars, cases of them left over from testing, was just sitting there... right outside my office.
Naturally, I started to grab one here and there. Then I grabbed another couple. And maybe a couple more. Sometimes I'd stack a dark chocolate crunch bar with a peanut butter crunch bar, stick them in the microwave for 10 seconds, and eat them like giant, high-performance Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
Now, if you're a fan of Finibars, then you're probably saying, "Um, hey Chris, those bar are designed to be eaten before hard workouts and athletic competitions. They aren't snacks!"
Yeah, I know. And I still worked my way up to eating five of them every day: one before training and four more spread throughout the day or as a lunch replacement.
I fully expected to gain some body fat. But, weirdly, I didn't. The only thing I noticed was having the best workouts of my life and muscular pumps so tight they were almost painful.
So I decided to take a closer look at the ingredients of Finibars and figure out what was going on.
Protein and Functional Carbs
Aside from 16 grams of protein – a blend of high-quality whey protein isolate and milk protein isolate, not cheap soy like most food bars – Finibars contain 39 to 40 grams of carbohydrate. That's what initially had me worried. I was a low-carb guy at one time. I'm not anymore, but those carbs scared me a little, given the number of bars I was scarfing down.
Turns out, instead of being primarily made out of syrup and cheap sugars like most "energy" bars, Finibars contain isomaltulose as the primary carbohydrate. It's truly a "functional" carb, and not just because it can do squats while standing on an exercise ball.
Isomaltulose is derived from beets, but the molecules have been enzymatically rearranged to create a carbohydrate that's fully digested and fully absorbed — but much, much slower than regular, non-functional carbs. That's how Finibars sustain your energy for competition or long/intense workouts.
Also, isomaltulose induces a very low blood sugar response. As such, the body releases a very small amount of insulin, which prompts the body to burn stored fat for energy production. Yes, that means these bars actually promote fat burning and improve metabolism.
That explains how I was able to eat so many of them and stay lean. Isomaltulose is a functional carb source that causes the body to oxidize fat at a greater rate, which is one of the ways it improves endurance and athletic performance.
What's more, studies – randomized, double-blind, controlled cross-over studies – show that cyclists were able to improve their time trial tests by over a minute when using isomaltulose – the difference between winning gold and going home with just the free T-shirt (1).
Fuel for the Finish
Finibars weren't made because Biotest wanted a piece of the nutrition bar market. No, it happened organically. An Olympic cyclist we were working with said she needed a bar that fueled her competitions and helped her stay hydrated without upsetting her stomach.
Finibars were designed just for her and not sold to the general pubic at first. Later they were tested with every type of athlete, from ultra-marathoners to pro bodybuilders and NFL football players (who would eat them before games and during halftime).
Actor Bradley Cooper would eat them before and after his brutal workouts to prepare for his role in American Sniper.
Finibars also provide anti-catabolic protection (very important for natural lifters and athletes) and something called "superhydration." They help pull water into muscle – when consumed with fluids of course – for a superhydration effect, which is critical for supporting and sustaining high-level performance.
And unlike a grocery store "energy bar," which can upset your stomach during training and sports, Finibars soothe the digestive tract. As a bonus, they're wheat free and gluten free.
Who Should Use Finibars?
- Lifters and bodybuilders who train intensively (and love a good pump)
- Combat-sport athletes and fighters
- Runners and obstacle racers
- CrossFit athletes
- Military personal
- Anyone who trains their butt off
And while you won't find this on the label or on the store page, I think Finibars make a great anytime snack or meal replacement. Hey, life is a competition. Fuel up and win it.
To Sum Up, Finibar...
- Fuels the toughest workouts and competitions
- Provides sustained high-level energy
- Protects against muscle loss (catabolism)
- Improves metabolism
- Promotes fat burning
- Supports a muscular pump
- Soothes the digestive system
- Tastes damn good
- Konig, Zdzieblk, Holz, Theis, and Gollhofer, "Substrate Utilization and Cycling Performance Following Palatinose Ingestion: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Trial," Nutrients 2016, 8, 390;10.3390/nu8070390