Dave Vukets wants to change the way you think about sports nutrition.
In fact, the former elite road cyclist doesn't like to call it sports nutrition at all, but rather a term he coined himself: food for sport.
"That really sums up my whole philosophy," said Vukets, owner of Prima energy bars out of North Vancouver. "I want to show people you can eat a whole range of food and still perform well in your sport. It doesn't have to be this super-engineered, crazy stuff."
Vukets launched his company last spring in just one Vancouver store. Today, he offers four different bars — salted chocolate peanut butter, chocolate hazelnut, ginger pistachio and chai spice — in 45 stores across B.C.
His goal is to show people you don't have to sacrifice taste just because you're exercising, and his products are a testament to that; made from 100 per cent all-natural ingredients — no protein powders or processed syrups here — he uses a dried fruit and nut base surrounded by organic brown rice crisps that lend his bars a light and airy quality that's counter to the typically dense, over-engineered energy bars you find in most heath food stores.
"The bars sit in your stomach like normal food, as opposed to (processed sports nutrition) food that leaves you with a funny feeling," said Vukets, who added that he regularly receives emails from customers who are amazed they can eat Prima products while exercising.
"One guy, who has stomach cancer, said he has a really hard time digesting food, and told me this is the first energy bar he's tried that he can actually eat while cycling," he said.
Vukets is also a certified nutritionist, and offers dietary tips to other riders on the GranFondo website. In his many years riding with cyclists of different levels, he said he regularly encountered the same trend: people who tend to eat very well before exerting themselves but fail to do so while exercising.
And with GranFondo Whistler a little over a week away, Vukets recommends riders pack several small snacks — containing about 100 calories each — to enjoy every 15 or 20 minutes throughout the race.
"The best tip is to eat and drink early and often," he said.
Contrary to what the major sports nutrition companies tell you, Vukets said you don't have to overcomplicate your meal plan when it comes time to exercise. Pack simple, tasty items that will keep you going. Vukets' personal race-time favourites, besides a couple Prima bars, of course, are a peanut butter and banana sandwich, dried pineapple and some boiled baby potatoes wrapped in tinfoil with a little olive oil and salt.
"Sports nutrition is actually quite straightforward," he added, "but people want to blow it up and make it really confusing by saying you have to eat this at this time.
"Your body just wants natural food."
You can find Prima energy bars at Olives Community Market in Function Junction. Visit www.eatprima.com for more information.