Tracee Ellis Ross 'Suffers Through' Applesauce Before Workouts — Here's Why

There are a few reasons why Ellis' pick is one of the best pre-workout snacks.

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When it comes to getting sh*t done in the gym, Tracee Ellis Ross is an absolute legend. Whether she's upping the ante on strength training via blood flow restriction cuffs or making fans laugh as she narrates her side plank struggles, it seems she's always up for a challenge.

As it turns out, it's not just planks that she suffers through. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal about her morning routine, Ellis Ross shared that she works out three or four times a week and relies on a blend of herbs, vitamins, and supplements, including protein and collagen shakes. She also shared that 15 minutes before she hits the gym, she eats "a little lunchbox-sized applesauce." As she puts it, "I do not like applesauce at all. But I was told that that kind of pure, good-for-you sugar 15 minutes before a workout will make your workout more productive. Whether it works or not, I have no idea. But I suffer through eating the applesauce."

You've might be wondering why the Black-ish star is forcing herself to eat something she flat-out doesn't enjoy. Turns out, everyone's favorite elementary school snack actually provides several powerhouse nutrients that can fuel you up no matter what's on your workout agenda for the day — though Ellis Ross could make another choice and get the same effect.

"The benefits of eating applesauce or any carbohydrate-based snack before a workout comes from the energy boost that you receive throughout the workout," Carissa Galloway, RDN and Premier Protein nutrition consultant, tells Shape. "When you eat a carbohydrate-based snack like applesauce, your body releases insulin that helps shuttle glucose [a form of sugar] to your muscle cells to help power exercise and increase your stamina." (

There are actually several solid reasons to keep a few packs of applesauce handy in your gym bag, according to Galloway. "First, using pre-packaged applesauce makes it a portable, shelf stable fuel that you can always have in your car, gym bag, or at home," she says. As previously mentioned, it's rich in carbs. "Finally, applesauce is low in fiber and fats," notes Galloway. "Fiber and fat slow your digestion, limiting your body's ability to get the sugar it needs to fuel your workout."

And to Ellis Ross' point about applesauce's "good-for-you" sugar content, Galloway notes that "applesauce's sugar comes from a natural source. Fruits naturally contain sugar and are a great choice since they offer the additional benefits of vitamins and minerals." (Read more: How Many Servings of Fruits and Vegetables Do You Actually Need Per Day?)

Still, the actress (or anyone else) doesn't have to suffer through eating something unenjoyable, when there are plenty of other picks there that provide those same nutritional bennies as applesauce. "Other similar snack items that you can enjoy within 15 to 30 minutes before a workout are raisins, a banana, beet juice, a tablespoon of honey, or four to six ounces of a sports drink that contains carbohydrates," says Galloway.

But if you love applesauce then go for it, ideally before your workout. Your best bet is to try something else that combines protein and carbs 30 minutes to an hour after you're finished, says Galloway. The combo can help build and repair the muscles you tapped into, and to help stoke your metabolism throughout your day. "Post-workout, your body needs both carbohydrates and protein," says Galloway. "The optimal ratio is a 4:1 ratio, meaning you would aim for four grams of carbohydrate for every one gram of protein consumed. The protein will start the muscle repair process and the carbohydrates will boost your energy, replacing the muscle glycogen used. While you can eat applesauce post-workout, you need to pair it with protein." Alternatively, you might consider a protein shake or chocolate milk, which experts call "the best post-workout drink. (

When it comes to her pre-workout snack of choice, Ellis Ross is onto something, but you've got plenty of other options if you share the actress' distaste for the childhood favorite.

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