Why Energy From Food is Better than Energy From Caffeine

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The word energy has gained a strange reputation over the years. Thanks to drinks promising to give us wings and bars telling us they’ll propel us up the tallest mountains, a massive market has been created for companies to try and exploit.

And trying they are.

While sampling Unwrapp’d Energy Bites at an Earth Day event in Boulder last month, numerous shoppers stopped by to ask what we put in our bites to provide the energy. Almost every single person who asked was expecting one of two answers: caffeine or chemicals.

We fully understand the confusion that has been created due to the proliferation of energy drinks, cold brew coffee, and energy bars lining our grocery stores, each one touting its unique energy-providing properties. But here’s the thing. Evolutionarily speaking, humans are hardwired to get all the energy they need from whole foods. This is why our bites rely on a simple balance of carbohydrates, fat, fiber and protein as the source of energy.

If that seems simple, that’s because it is simple by design.

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The Story Behind Our Whole Food Ingredients

Before we started Unwrapp’d, I was working as an analyst in Washington, D.C. It was a standard desk job in the nation’s capital, complete with long hours and unlimited coffee. The daily grind usually consisted of 4-6 cups of coffee on average, along with one or two highly processed energy bars to keep me going.

After three years of this routine, though, my body was in disarray. My caffeine tolerance was through the roof, but my addiction kept me drinking more and more of it anyways. Worse yet, I leaned on pre-workout supplements to further artificially spike my energy levels before exercise.

Because I worked out in the evenings, the caffeine made it more difficult to sleep soundly through the night. This made me feel even more tired in the morning, thus kicking off a new vicious cycle.

My daily doom loop from consuming too much caffeine and highly processed bars.

My daily doom loop from consuming too much caffeine and highly processed bars.

And the processed bars I was eating weren’t making matters any better. My gut was in bad shape, and thanks to the brain-gut connection, I was experiencing increasing amounts of brain fog and mid-day crashes.

That’s when I was introduced to the Whole30 diet plan that forced me to eliminate processed foods, added sugar and artificial sweeteners. For 30 days I was only allowed to eat whole foods. And afterwards I was to reincorporate the foods I had been previously eating back into my diet to compare how I felt.

And the results were stunning.

I found that after a few weeks of only eating whole foods my energy was naturally much higher than it had been. Gone were my afternoon crashes and hourly trips to the coffee maker just to make it through the day. It turned out that a couple of well-timed snacks consisting of a piece of fruit and some nuts or seeds was all I needed to stay optimally energized.

When the time came to formulate our recipes for Unwrapp’d, it was an easy decision what ingredients we were going to use. We knew we needed to keep it simple. We knew we needed the right mix of carbohydrates, fat, fiber and protein. So:

  • We chose dates for carbohydrates and fiber. Dates are low GI (glycemic index), which means they are digested slowly by our bodies, keeping energy levels even throughout the day. The slow releasing energy is why so many athletes eat dates during their activities; it ensures they have enough strength from start to finish.

  • We chose nuts and seeds for healthy fats and whole protein sources (instead of highly processed protein isolates found in most energy bars)

  • We chose raw cacao instead of chocolate sweetened with sugar, stevia or erythritol because raw cacao contains strong antioxidants and loads of vitamin C, iron and magnesium. Magnesium is especially important because it’s one of the most common minerals to be deficient in, which can cause fatigue, irritability and weakness.

  • We needed something to help replenish the human body after an intense workout or long day at work. And dates have more potassium per gram than bananas!

So when you see Unwrapp’d Energy Bites, remember where the energy comes from: whole foods. Not chemicals and caffeine.

Stay healthy,

Tom