Recovery

Does Eating Candy Before A Workout Help You Get Stronger?

February 12th 2020

You may be asking this question on Reddit or on an online forum but does eating candy before a workout help you lift heavier weights?

You probably want a quick yes or no answer.

Which is fine because we want to get information as quickly and as comprehensively as possible.

However, it wouldn’t be fair for you if you did not hear about all sides of the story.

So, we will go over why you should have some carbohydrates if you are doing strength training.

Candy Before Your Workout

If you are strength training, it would be a good idea to have some carbohydrate source (like candy) before or even during your workout to help provide your body with an immediate supply of energy. 

Who should not follow this?

Eating candy before your workout is considered nutrient timing.

You are making sure you are getting glucose into your body during your workout.

However, who should not follow plan?

I would consider the following situations to be not appropriate for someone who wants to do nutrient timing:

  • If you have modest goals like losing 5 lbs
  • If you are just exercising for being healthy
  • If you are just working out for general health
  • If you do not have any special physiological concerns
  • If you just want to do “enough” at the gym

If any of the above situations apply to you, eating candy before your workout should be one of your last concerns.

Your main goals should be to eat enough food and to train hard.

Making sure you do not gain excess weight while making sure you stay consistent at the gym.

Athletes should consider this suggestion

However, if you are doing any sports, this should be something to take advantage of.

If you are doing any strength sports, this tidbit may give you an extra boost.

Overall, your goals for eating candy before or during your workout should be the following:

  • Improving recovery
  • Preserving muscle
  • Boosting performance
  • Having access to immediate fuel
  • Staying hydrated

Once you check off these boxes, you should be good.

If you are doing have some candy, sugary snack or even a piece of fruit before your workout, have it between 0-60 minutes.

Glucose is absorbed very quickly in your body so the timing of when you should eat these simple sugars is actually important.

Honey, gummy bears, jelly beans, Swedish fish, sour patch kids, sour patch strips, they all work.

Just find something you like and give it a try.

Especially if you are strength training.

Even though your workout may seem short, you are using a lot of energy during bursts of 10-20s.

Why do you quit and feel terrible close toward the end of the set?

You may not be strong enough.

You may not have the proper technique.

But what if you simply did not have enough immediate energy to fuel your muscles?

The importance of testing this information out

I am sure you read or even seen some gym folks during these habits.

Now, the question is, does it work?

I’m confident that the only way to answer that question is for you to try it out.

You need to eat some candy or sugar before/during your workout and reflect if you notice a difference.

And do not just do it for a few workouts.

Commit a training cycle or two to this experiment.

Notice if you feel any different approaching your heavy sets.

A common response is that the lifter may some a “slight” improvement but it really can’t be measured.

If it fits in your routine, you might as well make it last.

Is there a best kind of sugar to consume before your workout?

From a nutritionist’s point of view, they suggest that the best type of sugar to eat is from unprocessed, natural foods, like honey or fruits.

From a scientist’s point of view, all sugars, refined or not, will yield the same results. Cakes vs white breads vs ice cream vs candy vs chocolate, it does matter because your body will convert it into glucose anyway.

The most practical advice would be to buy the best type of sugar you can afford.

If you cannot buy organic oranges, go for a cheaper opinion.

Cannot afford to buy a $2 pack of candy each workout session? Go home and eat what is available.

Hell, even free office mints might be an option for some people if they are really, really poor.

My experience with 6+ years of no candy before my workout

For the first 4 years of my training, I trained a lot with no preworkout meal. 

No preworkout shake.

I even trained fasted most of the time.

I was a big supporter of post-workout nutrition but I really neglected any pre-workout advice.

For me, it would cause me to analyze my meals way too much since I already enjoy thinking already.

It would cripple me with analysis paralysis.

And for the last 2 years, not much has changed but I am willing to give this a little experiment.

Very recently in the last 6 weeks, I have been feeling very light headed during my workouts. Just in general.

On my overhead press days, squat days, and especially my deadlift days.

Probably the only days I do not feel anything is when I get to sit down and do the bench press.

In this experiment, I will update you guys on how I am feeling pre and post workout.

However, I did not let this lack of knowledge stop me

Nevertheless, I continued to train as hard as I could.

I did not let anything stop me.

Even if my body was not feeling great, my number one objective was to complete my required reps.

If I had to go for a training PR, then I will give it my best effort.

And it has worked out great.

Of course, I still want to get stronger, a lot stronger.

I feel that I am nowhere close to my peak even though my strength climbs very slowly.

But I am blessed that I can still train hard and enjoy all these challenges in front of me.

Be mindful about cavities

Even though we are training for strength, we want to make sure our body parts are protected.

However, if we consume sugar frequently, we increase our risks of cavities

If sugar is not washed away in your mouth via saliva, brushing or water, it attracts bacteria that can create plague.

Also, a sugary mouth will lower the pH of your mouth, which makes a very acidic environment.

If your mouth drops below pH 5.5, your enamel will erode, which is something every lifter would not want.

And if you never had any oral surgeries before, you will miss time away from training because you need to wait for any incisions to fully heal.

You do not want to rupture any cuts just because you need to train.

Be realistic.

Your teeth are with you for life.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you can see that even though you may not want to eat any sugars before or during your workouts, you can still make progress.

You may find that it helps though.

So, I would suggest that you give it a try and see if you notice any boost in performance.

After all, the more you can get out of your training and recovery from, the better and stronger you will be in the future.

As a result, all your future training sessions will push you even further through your limits.

So, read up and educate yourself.

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