Candy, including seasonal treats, can be a surprisingly effective workout fuel, an expert says.
Sweets like sour candy or gummies can provide carbs to boost performance and muscle building.
After a workout, chocolate bars can kickstart recovery with a blend of carbs and protein.
If you're looking to make monster gains in the gym, Halloween candy can be an effective workout fuel, an expert says.
"Candy is one of those things people think they need to eliminate, but if you have the knowledge, you can incorporate it into your lifestyle," she told Insider.
Indulging in seasonal treats can help fuel your workouts, with a little strategic planning.
Loading up on carbohydrates before and after exercise can improve performance, support recovery, and boost protein synthesis to build muscle, Reed said. While foods like fruit, veggies, and whole grains are a nutritious source of carbs you should rely on regularly, there's still room for candy if it's something you enjoy.
To get the most out of your Halloween stash, Reed recommends eating chewy or gummy candy right before you hit the gym, and saving treats with chocolate, peanut butter, and nuts for a post-workout treat to boost muscle recovery.
Reach for a sugar fix 30-60 minutes before a workout
During exercise, your body needs to tap into a fuel source to provide you with the energy to keep moving. For lower-intensity workouts such as a long run or bike session, your body can burn fat for fuel.
But burning fat takes time. Shorter, spicier workouts demand more readily available energy, for which carbs are key, Reed said.
"Your body prefers to use carbs for fuel during moderate to high intensity exercise," Reed said.
Candy can provide a quick fix of carbs in the form of sugar. Reed's favorites include Sour Patch Kids and Nerds, but any type of gummy or chewy candy works well.
For best results, aim for about 150 to 200 calories worth of a carb-rich treat, and enjoy it 30-60 minutes before your workout, Reed said.
Candy bars can help with post-workout recovery
Following a workout, you can optimize recovery and muscle-building by eating a combination of carbs and protein, according to Reed.
The ideal amount for most athletes is about 200 to 300 calories with 30 to 50 grams of carbs and 20 to 25 grams of protein (a 2 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein). Reed recommends combining your usual protein snack or shake with chocolate candy that has nuts or peanut butter, including Snickers, Payday, or Reese's.
Another perfect post-workout seasonal treat is a latte (pumpkin spiced or otherwise) which has similar nutrient benefits, or even more if you opt for the protein coffee trend.
Planning to have protein and carbs within a few hours of exercising can help boost recovery, but you don't need to snarf your snack immediately.
"It's a misconception that you need to be chugging protein as you're walking away from the workout," Reed said.
Balance is key to enjoying seasonal treats
When it comes to adding candy to your fitness routine, Reed sad she's a fan of the 80/20 rule of eating healthily 80 percent of the time, and indulging the other 20 percent.
"No foods are off limits, and we shouldn't be labeling foods as good or bad. I believe there should be a balance between consuming fuel that you love that makes you happy and getting nutrients," she said.
And if you're a parent trying to balance family activity like trick-or-treating while carving out time for your gym routine, don't be afraid to sneak a little candy from your kids.
"I think of it as a Halloween tax," Reed said.
Read the original article on Insider