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Made In Manitoba Energy Bar Boosted By Lentil Ingredient -- FBCPublishing.com

Made in Manitoba

Theresa Le Sliworsky needed lots of energy to sustain her through busy days of raising a young family, working full time and training as an endurance triathlete.

To keep her energy up, she'd eat sport performance bars, but she was often aghast by how much sugar, fat and preservatives were in them. Many didn't taste very good and as an athlete paying attention to how her metabolism responded to food, she found they lacked the sustained energy she needed.

That's when the mother of two began experimenting in her kitchen to see if she could take a very different approach to making an energy bar.

She has an even busier schedule now, as founder and president of Genki Bar Foods Inc., a sport nutrition bar product line. She finds herself dividing her time between Tokyo, doing market development, and the family's Winnipegosis ranch.

Le Sliworsky named her product the "Genki Bar."

"In Japanese Genki means 'vigour, power, strength and energy,' she said.

She chose lentils as her main ingredient, knowing the pulse crop's subtle flavours would work with the nuts, fruits and oats she wanted to use. She also knew lentils were wholesome and healthy and largely under-consumed in North America, having spent nearly a decade doing international market development for the pulse industry.

She might have stuck with eating her own creations, had it not been for the rave reviews she got from fellow athletes who'd try them.

"I have a lot of connections through the athletic community and I'd hand these bars out to people and everyone was giving me this amazing feedback (about faster muscle recovery)," she said. "And I didn't know why."

That's when she turned to the Food Development Centre at Portage la Prairie and was linked up with sport performance researchers at the University of Saskatchewan. They used her bars to study links between consuming lentils and improved athletic performance and concluded what her friends told her — the lentil-based bar better enhanced exercise metabolism than another leading sport performance bar.

The difference lentils make is that they're a low glycemic index (GI) food, providing a slower release of sustained food energy versus more intense but shorter energy bursts from higher GI foods.

What they're now beginning to market in both Canada and Japan is the first sport performance bar made with Canadian-grown lentils that additionally promotes the functional benefits of lentils, said Le Sliworsky.

Her target market is high-endurance athletes in Canada and Japan including triathletes, cyclists, runners, cross-country skiers and soccer players.

For now they continue to utilize the facilities of the FDC for product manufacture. She hopes that she may be able to set up processing facilities of her own at some point down the road.

"That's the goal of every food company that's starting out," she said.

Manitoba athletes got their first nibbles of the Genki bar last summer during the Manitoba Marathon as well as at other 2010 race events. The bars are sold at select athlete supply stores in Dauphin and Winnipeg and online at www.genki-bar.com

lorraine@fbcpublishing.com

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"I'd hand these bars out to people and everyone was giving me this amazing feedback (about faster muscle recovery)."

— THERESA LE SLIWORSKY

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I have noticed a difference in my training with Genki Bar®. I no longer get hungry half way through my workout and I have more energy at the end of my workouts. It gives me energy when I need it and it is not overly filling which is great!

- Nika Smitz
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