Pre-Workout Candy: Does Science Back Up the Trend?

AndOne of TikTok’s latest fitness hacks is one you might not expect: eating sour candy before a workout for extra energy. Creators are taking videos of themselves doing it at the gym and people are loving watching them do it. “Sour Candy Jim” has over 804 million views on the platform.

I mean, I don’t need to be asked twice to eat some sour punch straws before my hot girl walks. But as with any TikTok trend, it’s a good idea to check in with the experts. Does science actually back up its effectiveness, or is it just another case of sharing quick fixes from unreliable sources?

According to Rachel Trotter, a certified personal trainer, popping some sour candy in your mouth before a workout by doing There are benefits “In terms of sports nutrition, this trend is absolutely valid,” she says. But this is not a new trend, he noted. “Candies like gummy bears have long been a staple of distance athletes.”

The truth is that sour candy is straight up scientific. “While it sounds like a fun idea, eating sour candy to enhance workouts is nothing more than a modern twist on basic science,” says Kylene Bogden, MS, RDN, a nutritionist at Pureboost, co-founder of FWDfuel, and an effective The leader in sports nutrition.

The science behind a candy boost

So how exactly can candy improve your workout? As you have already heard, carbohydrates or sugar is a great source of energy for our body. “Our bodies will store carbohydrates as glycogen in the muscles to use as energy during our workouts,” explains Alex Larson, MS, RDN, LD, a Minnesota-based sports dietitian who specializes in working with endurance athletes. “However, when glycogen stores are depleted, our energy and stamina decrease. Consuming a quick energy source like sugar from candy will provide the boost you need to keep crushing your workout.”

This is not the time to eat a piece of candy important A tough workout, it can definitely help. “This will support our body’s physiological response to training, leading to adaptations in both the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems that support [an] increasing overall strength and endurance,” Larson says. Trotta adds that it’s most helpful for workouts that are high in intensity or long in duration.

You may find this response surprising. Don’t we hear from advertising, the media, and “nut moms” (or anyone who has fallen prey to diet culture) that candy is “bad”?

“It seems so fancy and counterintuitive on social media that sugar and exercise seem like they should be on opposite sides of your health goals—but in reality, they’re not,” says Trotta. “Your body needs glucose for fuel, and although the wellness culture generally demonizes sugar, it’s an incredibly effective fuel for exercise.” And of course, dieting is always unhealthy, and can lead to disordered eating patterns.

Here’s how to get the best results from your sour patch snack

When to eat candy—and how much—depends on the type of workout you’re doing. Overall, though, you want to eat a simple carbohydrate-like snack—like candy or PopTarts—and, according to Larson, you want to eat it about 15 to 45 minutes before you move. As far as amounts, “a good starting point would be 20 to 40 grams of carbohydrates,” he notes. (For context, 12 Sour Patch Kids has 27 grams of carbs.)

The type of candy is also important, but only to a certain extent. “The reason sour candy in particular is attracting attention is that it’s virtually fat-free, which means that sugar can be quickly converted to glucose for energy without the fat (or protein) component to slow it down,” explains Trotta. In other words, he says, chocolate isn’t as effective as a pre-workout fuel.

Ultimately, choose what is accessible to you and what your body craves. “Candy is easy and affordable,” Larson says. Trotta adds that expensive pre-workout supplements are often just sugar, however, even though they’re labeled as “healthy.”

However, be aware that if you have a sugar sensitivity, this method probably isn’t right for you. “The only time I’d be very careful is if you’re suffering from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar),” warns Bogden. “Quick spikes and crashes can hurt your workout.”

Other foods that can help prepare you for a workout

If you’re not in the mood for sour candy, there are other foods that can get the job done. “Of course, you can use a beneficial ‘whole food’ like a banana to fuel yourself before exercise (and I recommend this to many of my clients),” says Trotta.

Bogden adds that eating a carbohydrate-rich meal — such as oatmeal or a rice-based power bowl — about two to three hours before your workout is another good idea. After your workout, Larson recommends refueling with carbohydrates to reload glycogen and protein for muscle repair and rebuilding.

It’s best to be wary of the fitness and food advice you hear on TikTok, in which case, you’ve got a green light to shout those sour skittles. “Sometimes, TikTok helps bring visibility to rock-solid sports nutrition by challenging the black-and-white thinking of food culture,” says Trotta. “It’s helpful to remember that nutrition is all about context, and for a hard workout or serious training we need to rethink our nutritional needs, whether we’re using candy for fuel or not.”

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