Before you start a workout, you might fuel up with a nutritious smoothie, banana, or bagel for a dose of carb-based energy. In stark contrast, eating a bag of gummy worms in the gym parking lot doesn’t seem like the best move. But with more than 1.2 billion views, sour candy has become a go-to pre-workout snack on GymTok.
Although it sounds strange, folks on TikTok swear that eating sour candy — like sour strips or gummy worms — is the secret to getting through a tough gym sesh. Creator @keishaaa said the wild cherry-flavored sour strips are the “best gym snack.” In her comments section, she wrote that she eats the entire bag and that it works, for her, as a type of pre-work for a boost of energy.
Before heading into the gym to lift weights, TikToker @drsierrehanowski chewed a few strips and later reported back that she did, in fact, have a better workout than usual. And according to sports dietician Kelly Slovin, MS, RD, there might actually be something to it.
Sour strips are convenient, but she says they also taste really good and have the perfect ingredients to fuel your routine. Read on for everything you need to know about eating sour candy before a workout, according to experts.
Why Sour Candy Gives You Energy
“When thinking about a pre-workout snack that can give you quick energy, you want to look for something that is mostly made of simple carbs,” Slovin tells Bustle, and that describes sour candy to a T.
Compared to fiber, protein, or fat-rich foods, which provide a sustained release of energy, simple carbs enter your bloodstream pretty much immediately. As Slovin explains, this type of candy is easy to digest, it boosts your energy, and it doesn’t cause any GI distress, the way something heavier might.
When it comes to working out, your muscles also can’t tell the difference between a hit of energy from sour candy or a banana, says Slovin. Your body will break down the glucose (aka sugar) in the exact same way to fuel your routine.
“Of course, a banana will provide more nutrients that can be used for other purposes, but when looking specifically at the function of the carbohydrates, all sources of simple carbs will produce the same outcome,” she says.
When Should You Eat Sour Candy?
To make the most of your yummy pre-workout snack, Slovin recommends eating a few gummy worms 15 to 30 minutes before you exercise. “Since it’s a quick form of energy, it will not last all that long, especially when working out,” she says, so timing is everything.
As far as serving size, “it depends on the candy,” she adds. “You want to aim for roughly 30 to 90 grams of carbs for a pre-workout snack, depending on your personal needs.” So read those labels.
Sour Candy As A Mid-Workout Snack
While you’re at it, you might even want to bring the bag to the gym with you. Plenty of people on FitTok are taking a break to eat sour strips as a way to keep going, though Slovin says a mid-workout snack is only really necessary if you’re exercising, running, or lifting for longer than an hour.
During an endurance workout, your body taps into its energy stores to fuel your muscles. As those stores deplete, you’ll start to feel sluggish, and that’s when re-fueling with a gummy worm could be helpful. “The body receives energy from the carbohydrates in the candy, which can quickly be utilized during the workout,” says Slovin.
Sour candy is easy to keep in your gym bag or in your running belt, and it comes in handy when you don’t have time for a proper meal or snack before going to the gym. The convenience, the quick hit of sugar — as well as the novelty of eating something that tastes like sour watermelon — is likely why this trend has taken off, Slovin says.
That said, as a dietician, she typically recommends eating whole foods whenever possible, like a handful of granola, pretzels, bananas, or some dried fruit. Still, she gives sour candy the OK as a pre-workout snack. Just remember to have a nutritious meal once you get home.
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Kelly Slovin MS, RD, sports dietician