TikTokers Are Using Sour Candy as Pre-Workout

Find out whether or not a personal trainer and registered dietitian approve of the trend.

Sour Candies

TikTok has become a source for all sorts of buzzy health information, but some of it is…questionable. So, if you've seen clips of TikTok users talking about using sour candy as pre-workout fuel, it's understandable to have doubts.

There are plenty of people who swear by sour candy — specifically, Sour Strips —to help boost their workout, based on TikTok videos. "These little Sour Strips? Best gym snack," said one TikToker. She later shared in the comments that she eats "the entire pack" for pre-workout.

Another fan posted a video of herself eating a piece of Sour Strips candy while wearing a sports bra and workout shorts. "Today's pre is sponsored by Sour Strips," she wrote in the caption.

Why exactly do some people find a sugary candy ideal for a pre-workout snack? "When you're lifting weights, your primary fuel source is stored carbs, also known as glycogen," said a user in one video. "As your workout continues, your fuel tank empties, making you feel weaker, fatigued, and not able to work out nearly as hard as when you first started the workout on a full tank." Sour Strips contain simple sugars that get "converted back into glycogen in as little as five to 10 minutes, filling that tank back up," she explained.

It makes sense in theory, but is this TikTok workout trend legitimate? Here's what experts have to say.

What is pre-workout fuel?

Pre-workout fuel (aka "pre-workout" or "pre") is nutrition that's designed to give you a boost of energy when you work out, says Albert Matheny, R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength LabPromix Nutrition, and ARENA. "It's supposed to be quick energy that's easy to digest and spikes your blood sugar," he says, adding that the goal of taking pre-workout is to "go into a workout and feel energized for longer than if you didn't take pre-workout."

Pre-workout is usually some form of simple carbohydrates, which are carbs that are easily broken down into glucose, the form of sugar that your body uses for fuel, explains Matheny. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, digest more slowly. Simple carbohydrates can be found in foods such as fruit, but they can also be in sugary candies, says Jessica Cording, R.D., author of The Little Book of Game-Changers.

When it comes to pre-workout, people often take a supplement or have a shake with ingredients designed to provide fuel for the body, but pre-workout can come in different forms. "It can literally be sugar," says Matheny.

Does eating sour candy as pre-workout fuel work?

It seems kind of weird, but experts say there's something to eating candy as pre-workout. Sour candy such as TikTok-favorite Sour Strips "fits the parameters" of pre-workout, according to Matheny. "It's just sugar and it's very easy to digest," he adds.

But Cording says that there's nothing about sour candy in particular that makes it better than any other type of candy — or fruit — for pre-workout. "Any simple carbohydrate is going to provide energy pre-workout," she says. "Candy just happens to be a concentrated source, but there's no additional benefit to the sour part."

Sour candy is low in fat and very low in protein, so it "hits your bloodstream pretty quickly," says Cording. (Sour Strips' Appleberry flavor, for example, contains 0.7 grams of fat and 20 grams of sugar per serving.) That "will achieve what most people are looking for from pre-workout," confirms Matheny.

Is eating sour candy as pre-workout fuel safe?

Experts say it's generally pretty safe to use sour candy as pre-workout, but each individual may follow a different nutrition plan and have different health goals in mind to consider. "If you're not eating a lot of added sugar, it may not be a huge deal [to use sour candy as pre-workout fuel]," says Cording. "But [consuming] sugar is an easy habit to fall into, and some people feel there is an addictive quality to it." If that's the case for you, you might consider turning to another pre-workout fuel.

Cording points out that you can also get similar energizing benefits with whole foods rather than processed candy. "There are so many easily digestible sources of carbohydrates that don't have negative health consequences," she says. "You could choose something else, [such as] half a banana or a Medjool date, and get similar results with better nutrition." Note: Sour Strips contain ingredients such as glucose-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring, and artificial coloring, which you wouldn't find in whole foods, including fruit.

Overall, Matheny "doesn't have a problem" with people using sour candy as pre-workout, but he recommends having protein after you're done exercising if you go this route. "You probably wouldn't feel great after your workout if you had this really sugary thing before you worked out hard if you don't get some real food in afterward," he says.

Sour candy is a good source of pre-workout fuel: True or false?

Sour Candies

While experts say it's okay to eat sour candy before working out, they stop short of saying you should go this route. Ultimately, if you want to try sour candy as pre-workout, you can, but there are other options to consider depending on your personal goals.

That said, it's always important to listen to your body and your physician. If you feel good hitting the gym after downing some sour candy and don't have a medical condition that impacts how much sugar you can consume, Sour Strips may be a good pre-workout fuel for you.

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