Fitness & Nutrition

Is Candy Really a Workout Villain?

October 23, 2023

If you have kids (and even if you don’t), Halloween season is full of candy. You might even be snacking on a piece while you are reading this. We all know the side effects of eating too many processed sugars in our everyday lives, but what if we told you that candy might have a useful purpose as pre-workout fuel?

Candy might give you the boost you need

Now, we aren’t saying you should go guzzle down as many M&M’s as you can before a workout. That would leave you feeling yucky by the time you got into your second round of burpees. However, strenuous workouts do burn tons of fuel, namely sugars, and by including a small amount of candy in your pre-workout routine, you might be able to give yourself a small power boost to get going. 

You see, carbohydrates are broken down into two types: complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, take longer to digest. Simple carbohydrates, on the other hand, such as the sugar found in candy, move through your digestion quite quickly and become glucose. This sugary fuel can be used by your muscles to create energy not long after consumption.  

Do you need carbs before your workout?

Before breaking a sweat during H.I.I.T., strength training, CrossFit and more, you need to fuel your body with a carbohydrate-heavy snack. For some, this could be a shake, bar, or supplement. If you were going to eat some candy, now would be the time to do it, as the simple sugars will break down quickly and give your body the fuel it needs. Aim for 15 to 20g of sugars but no more. 

Unfortunately, this doesn’t go for workouts on the lighter side. If you are going for a walk, bike ride or light jog, for instance, your body will likely burn stored fat for energy. You won’t need to fuel in any special way before these workouts, but you may want to try to have a healthy snack available just in case. Always check with your healthcare provider about your exercise and nutrition, especially if you have diabetes or are at risk of developing this condition. 

After your workout, go for something nutritious

To help your muscles recover after a strenuous workout, it is important to fuel your body the right way. Plan to eat a meal that includes both complex carbohydrates and protein within two hours if possible. If you won’t be having a meal, consider a large snack. 

Remember that while you are working out and afterwards you should be hydrating with plenty of fluids. Plain water is the best way to replenish the body, but if you are hitting your sweat session for longer than 60 minutes, you may need to use a sports drink or something else containing electrolytes.

So, while candy might not be a workout villain and may be useful as fuel, it is still important to do so in moderation. Remember, if you are interested in learning more about how exercise can help you to reach your fitness goals, you can head to one of our Hancock Health Wellness Centers and get with a personal trainer.