[Originally published August 5, 2011.]

- - -

I don’t fuel my engine with just anything. My body is an elite training machine that responds best to the engineered nutritional victuals located in the energy bar aisle of REI. Take this Peanut Butter and Jelly Larabar. It packs the dueling flavor stories and caloric heft of a traditional sandwich into a snack the size of a DD battery, but it’s all organic and rounded out with the raw power of dates. It’s 240 calories of custom-balanced protein, carbohydrate and fat (40:30:30!) built with an internal navigational system to find the muscles that need it the most and inject its energy into my busy “veep” lifestyle, propelling me to success as I edit the monthly asset report in my office.

I carry a spare Stinger Buzz Bar with me at all times, just in case. I’ve eaten several while stuck in traffic in the Holland Tunnel listening to radio snow, and my pecs are all the better for it. Some people think that the unwieldy, imprecise striations of a homemade lasagna will provide the kind of sustenance they need to get through a family picnic, but not me. I rely on the patented soy, rice and barley kibble known as ClifPro to form the basis of situation-specific meals-in-a-bar. For a late summer picnic, I might hit the Carrot Cake Clif Bar, tested by creator Gary on a trans-Pyrenees cycling tour for high-percentile endurance. If we look like playing a badminton friendly on the lawn, I might dial things up a notch and put away a White Chocolate Macadamia Clif Bar with frosting drizzles 10 to 15 minutes before the game to hit my VO2 max. And every Thursday before the team conference call, my assistant Viv knows to unwrap an Iced Gingerbread Limited Edition Clif Bar and leave it by last week’s minutes on my desk with a glass of Smart Water. Viv is my caddy, my coach, my pit crew, and she knows how to keep me focused and fueled.

If I don’t have time to unwrap and masticate a bar of advanced nutritional content, I will switch into high gear and activate my stash of maximally carbo-loaded Clif Blok Shots. When you’re looking down the barrel of an overnight client presentation, Black Cherry Blok Shots will deliver the 50-mg-caffeine/33-calories-fructose prophylactic necessary to juice-up late-night brevets through call-sheet notes and customer evaluations without you ever having to stop to chew or look in the helmet mirror. The geniuses behind Black Cherry flavor have created the winning combination of a convalescent texture that’s easy on the molars, and a mature port-wine taste complex that says, “We’re gonna get this shit done together!”

People often say to me things like, “Ian, you’ve got the energy of a 42-year-old,” “Ian, you should find yourself a nice wife,” and “Ian, your LDL is a little higher than I would like.” I’m very honest about the secret to the taut, unmoving sunset of my youth. You see I don’t portion out my food groups, I grind the entire pyramid into quickly digestible morsels of pap to throw on the pyre that is my busy executive bridge-and-tunnel lifestyle. When the annual Performance Assessment Gauges and Indexes Report rolls around, I will go bang for bang with Clif Shot Roks protein bites in Chocolate Brownie flavor, firing the Trademarked protein centers in their melt-proof shell straight to my thundering metabolism without having to lift more than one hand off the desk. If all hell breaks lose up here on Floor 16 in Business Development, I’ve got a sachet of purple Clif Shot Turbo Energy Gel hidden in my top drawer for an escape situation. And if I’m ever stuck up here for multiple days, I’ve got a turkey and mashed potatoes dinner ready to crack open—all I need to do is nuke some water in my Jetboil and pour it directly into the bag for an end-of-days dinner that will power me and my corpus into the next life without cramping or lactic acid buildup.

I once drove from Chi-town to the Stanford Leader’s Conference in one burst on a Five Hour Energy that took me clear across the Midwest without bonking. I was a one-man locomotive built of amino-acid demolition blocks, blasting along I-80 in the middle lane with the tuner frozen on evangelical call-in radio. Dressed in a performance Gore Windstopper and faced with the inhuman loneliness of an open highway spurred by yawning side roads at midnight, I ignited a can of Creatine and doused my muscles in the kind of turboboost that lesser men don’t return from, winding down the windows and taking my trip right in the face. When I arrived, I was four hours ahead of schedule, had a full set of bald snow tires, was down two pounds of water weight and found a litter of epic wrappers blowing around my calloused feet. Viv said I never looked so rugged.