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By Paula Marcé, Dietitian-Nutritionist by the University of Barcelona and taking the master’s degree in nutrition in physical activity and sports. Focused on sports research and nutrition.

In a few days, we will be celebrating Christmas meals where the best recipes are usually served. In Spain, rolled wafers, a nougat type of dessert and polvorones are, generally, the most anticipated Christmas sweets desserts. But, are we really aware of what we are ingesting?

All these sweets have a high energy value. Therefore, as athletes, we have to be aware of what we eat to maintain the body composition worked throughout the year through training and nutritional guidelines. For this reason, it is important to pay attention not only at the caloric intake but also in its composition. These foods contain a high amount of carbohydrates, mainly sugars and saturated fats from butter.

In this article, we will analyze each of these products to become aware of their quality and we will calculate the caloric value of what we can usually eat for desserts in a Christmas meal. We will give you tips to decipher the advertising slogans to avoid falling into the mistake of overeating foods that we think are “healthy”. And, finally, we will detail three homemade recipes for athletes to continue enjoying Christmas sweets without losing shape.

Composition of rolled wafers, nougat and polvorones

Rolled wafers

They are light and crispy sweets that come from the fine hosts that were made in the monasteries. They consist of a very liquid dough made with flour, sugar, egg white, lemon zest, vanilla and butter. In relation to its nutritional information, 100 grams of rolled wafers, approximately 17 units, provide:

Energetic value

1916 KJ / 455 Kcal

Fat

Of which: saturated

12, 9 g

9,9 g

Carbohydrates

Of which: sugars

79,1 g

37,4 g

Dietary fibre

0,3 g

Proteins

5,4 g

Salt

0,3 g

Sodium

0,1 g

Thus, despite its light appearance, it has poor fibre and high energy content of sugars and saturated fats. 

Nougat

Nougat is a sweet dough obtained by cooking honey or sugar to which peeled and toasted almonds are incorporated. The dough is kneaded and given a rectangular or coca form. Originating from the Arabian Peninsula, today we can find many flavours: chocolate, almonds, liquor, rice, marzipan, praline, burnt cream, Jijona or Alicante.

This is the nutritional information of 100 grams of two of the most typical nougat: the chocolate with almonds and the soft almonds.

 

Chocolate nougat with almonds

Almond soft nougat

Energetic value

2507 KJ/605 Kcal

2350 KJ/565 Kcal

Fat

Of which: saturated

47 g

14 g

40 g

3,2 g

Carbohydrates

Of which: sugars

31 g

28 g

34 g

32 g

Dietary fibre

7 g

5 g

Proteins

11 g

17 g

Salt

0,1 g

0 g

 

Its composition varies depending on the ingredients that have been used in its preparation. Both have a high fat content, but only a few are saturated as they are made with almonds (richer in monounsaturated fatty acids, specifically oleic acid). Even so, they are rich in sugars. Therefore, it should be consumed in moderation.

The nougat could be confused with the energy bars for athletes, but they are much more caloric and with a higher concentration of fats that, depending on when they are ingested, could cause intestinal discomfort by delaying digestion.

Polvorones

It is a small dough made of flour, butter, sugar, cinnamon, chopped almonds and other additives, such as coconut and sesame. They crumble into dust when eaten. Its composition is similar to that of “mantecados”. Unlike rolled wafers and nougat, polvorones are made with lard that has a high concentration of saturated fat.

This is the composition of 100 grams of polvorones, which are equivalent to 4 units approximately, an amount that can be easily eaten in a meal.

Energetic value

2034 KJ/488 Kcal

Fat

Of which: saturated

25,37 g

7,06 g

Carbohydrates

Of which: sugars

54,89 g

26,19 g

Dietary fiber

3,18 g

Proteins

7,72 g

Salt

0,03 g

Caloric contribution of 4 rolled wafers, 100 grams of nougat and 2 polvorones

If on a Christmas meal we end up eating for desserts 4 rolled wafers, 100g of nougat and 2 polvorones, we will be consuming a high number of calories coming mainly from sugars and fats with a low density of nutrients.

 

Energetic value

3811,51 KJ/914,56 Kcal

Fat

Of which: saturated

55,68 g

9,03 g

Carbohydrates

Of which: sugars

79,8 g

53,78 g

Dietary fiber

6,66 g

Proteins

22,11 g

Therefore, we must be aware of the quality of the food we eat to control the consumption of products that are not so appropriate for our body, especially for athletes.

We deciphered the advertising slogans

Currently in the market there is a wide range of products with declarations such as: “without sugars”, “without added sugars” and “low fat” products. But, what do these expressions really mean?

  • Without sugars: They do not contain sugar, but they have added sweeteners to maintain the sweet taste. Therefore, it stimulates our body to continue asking for products with a high concentration of sugars. In addition, its contribution of fat is the same as in a classic product.
  • No added sugar: These products do not contain added sugar, but contain sugar that is naturally present in foods, such as honey or fruit. That is, they use foods rich in sugar to sweeten the products. In addition, its fat content is also the same as in traditional products.
  • Low in fat: Its fat content is lower, but its sugar content is equal or higher.

Therefore, it is important not to fall into the error of buying this type of products, since it is easy to make a higher consumption as we think that they are “healthier”.

Homemade recipes

If you want to enjoy Christmas sweets without losing your body composition, you can make your own homemade sweets. We detail recipes of nougat, which could be used as energetic bars, rolled wafers and polvorones, to enjoy the Christmas holidays without losing the physical shape.

Soft nougat of almonds and figs (30g bar):

  • 15g Ground almonds
  • 15g Fresh Figs

Rolled wafers without gluten (for 6 rolled wafers):

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons (32 grams) of cassava starch/tapioca
  • 4 tablespoons (32 grams) of buckwheat flour
  • 55 grams of butter
  • ½ teaspoon of gelatin powder

Olive oil polvorones (for 30 units):

  • Integral flour 300g
  • Extra virgin olive oil 100 ml (approximate amount)
  • Sugar glass 125g
  • Ground almond 50g
  • Ground hazelnut 50g
  • A pinch of salt
  • Ground cinnamon and sesame seeds to taste
  • Extra icing sugar to decorate