Candy for Fuel? Why do Athletes Eat Skittles, Gummy Candy, and Other High Sugar Chews While Working Out?

Runner eating candy

If you’re a runner you may have wondered if you can swap out your high carb gels for candy. Maybe you overheard someone talking about using candy chews for energy during their last marathon, or read about professional athletes like Clare Gallagher, who bought a one-and-a-half-pound tub of Sour Patch kids before she tackled the Leadville 100 mile race in Colorado recently. Sugar is carbs and carbs are fuel, right?

Right, sort of. Simple carbohydrates all have four calories per gram and are the fuel your body can use quickly, which is what athletes need when running, swimming, or biking long distances. However, your body digests different types of carbs in different ways. According to Patrick Wilson, Ph.D., RD and assistant professor in Old Dominion University’s Human Movement Sciences department, eating more than one type of carbohydrates, such as glucose and fructose, speeds the absorption rate of your sugary fuel and lowers your risk for intestinal distress, which is an important consideration on those longer runs. Wilson says that “Essentially your intestines have a maximal rate of absorption for specific sugars because the intestinal protein transporters can be saturated or maxed out above a certain rate. That’s a bad thing because it can lead to carbohydrates sitting in the gut, which is likely to cause GI symptoms and decrease performance.”. In addition, Wilson suggests that any athlete using more than 50 grams of carbohydrates an hour should be seriously trying to use different types of carbs. For athletes, it’s recommended that they consume 30-60 grams of carbs per hour on runs of an hour or more. 

One of the benefits of sports nutrition like endurance gummies or gels is that they use different types of carbohydrates, which allows the body to use different metabolic pathways to digest the carbohydrates and prevents any carbs from lingering in the gut, which like Wilson mentioned, can lead to intestinal distress, which should be avoided if possible. In addition, unlike regular candy, sports nutrition foods also contain other things athletes need during their workouts and races like electrolytes, sodium, potassium, and magnesium.

If you’re thinking about swapping out your sports gel for candy chews, it’s important to check the candy labels and to practice using candy before your next big race. Candy manufacturers aren’t thinking about athletes when they formulate their candy, and some of the candy’s other ingredients besides sugar could have unintended consequences for athletes. It’s important to consider how things like artificial colors, preservatives, and things like hydrogenated palm oil (a key ingredient in Skittles) can impact your body on a long race. (Hint. It may not all be positive.)

Not All Sugars Are Created Equal

If you’re looking at sugar for fuel, you can look for different types of sugar in your candy. Choosing sugars with a low glycemic index like fructose will impact your body differently than candy chews like Skittles which has refined sugar like corn syrup. Fructose is not only low glycemic, which means that it will digest more slowly, causing a slower rise in your blood sugar levels. This provides steadier energy. Fructose is also high in calories, which is what athletes are looking for to fuel their long-distance races. 

Glucose is a sugar most athletes are likely familiar with. Glucose is the most important of the simple carbohydrates, or monosaccharides since it is the body’s primary fuel source. All other carbohydrates you consume are converted into glucose during digestion. 

Mocca Shot and Energon Chews Are High-Quality Sports Endurance Gummies

Would you like to have your candy, and eat it too? During your next workout or race, consider munching on Seattle Gummy’s endurance gummies, the Mocca Shot, and the Energon Cube. The Mocca Shot has two kinds of sugar in it, sucrose from natural cane sugar and the slowly digested fruit sugar, fructose. In addition to these delicious and high-energy sugars, they both contain caffeine that will fuel your body and mind on your next long race and nootropic herbs and vitamins that boost energy and mental focus. 

The power-up Energon Cube contains three types of sugar in order to provide controlled-release energy, rice syrup or glucose for fast-release fuel, sucrose and fructose for medium release fuel, and trehalose for slow-release fuel. Trehalose is a long-chain polysaccharide with a very low glycemic index that works with your gut to provide endurance fuel over time. The result is that you won’t experience a sugar crash like you would with a high glycemic index product like most other chews and gels. Moreover, it is a prebiotic so helps with digestion and gut health. That’s 22 grams of sugar out of 24 grams of carbohydrates, without any fat, or artificial colors, to fuel you on your next long workout. The Energon cube also contains caffeine and the power herb ginseng and BCAA mix, consisting of L-isoleucine, L-leucine, and L-Valine. Whatever your energy needs are, try Seattle Gummy’s Mocca Shot and Energon Cube today!

Chart of blood sugar using different carbs