My clients have been eating Haribo Gummy Bears after training for YEARS.
Those little pieces of bear-shaped fun are perfect nutrition for your aching muscles!
It might seem quite strange to hear me say that, because these things are basically sweets, and you’ll definitely get some strange looks when you pull out the bag and begin tucking in at the gym…
… but it’s 100% true!
I’ve been doing it since 2013, and in this post, I’m going to show you why.
Table of Contents
- Why Post Workout Haribo Gummy Bears Are Awesome
- Do We Need To Spike Insulin After A Workout?
- So Why Does It Work So Well?
- Who Is Russ Howe PTI?
Why Post Workout Haribo Gummy Bears Are Awesome
The first time I handed a client a bag of Haribo Gummy Bears after our workout, she looked at me like it was a trick, or perhaps a test to see if she could resist.
Once I explained the reasons behind it, though, she absolutely loved it – in fact, still uses it to this day!
When you finish a tough workout in the gym your body immediately enters a recovery phase. This is where you begin to repair all of the muscle fibers which were damaged during training, and replenish your depleted energy stores from all of that hard work.
We need two things for this:
Most people cover their protein requirements quite easily by packing a whey protein shake into their gym bag, but they’re lost when it comes to carbohydrates.
That’s where Haribo Gummy Bears come in.
You see, the reason whey protein is so effective is because it’s broken down very easily, making it a perfect source of protein when we want to hit our muscles with nutrients as quickly as possible (i.e. straight after training). Your handful of jellies will do a similar job for your energy reserves, by providing your body with an instant hit of fuel.
This means you leave the gym already recovering, and you’ll pick your energy levels back up immediately.
Haribo Gummy Bears are ideal for this job because the main ingredient is dextrose, which doesn’t need to be broken down before it can be used.
Let’s say you grabbed a more commonly accepted “healthy” form of carbohydrates instead, like fruit. About half of the sugar found in fruit is fructose, which must be broken down by the body before it can be used, so this is actually slowing down the recovery process. Alternatively if you chose a heavier post-workout meal, like pasta, the time required to unlock those nutrients is even longer.
So even though it feels like a treat food, don’t feel guilty about it – they’re actually helping you reach your fitness goals!
Do We Need To Spike Insulin After A Workout?
This is where things get controversial.
The answer is no, and even though a handful of Haribo Gummy Bears will cause an insulin spike to occur (it’s sugar), that’s not why you’re having them.
Back in the day, bodybuilding folklore (“broscience”) stated that spiking your insulin levels during the post-workout anabolic window (45-60 minutes after training) would lead to a significantly higher uptake of key nutrients, which would help you to build more muscle. That’s why bodybuilders would smash high carb meals a soon as their workout ended.
When I first started using this technique, this is exactly what I was trying to do, but the more that I used it, I began to see a much more powerful benefit (more on this in a moment).
Just as well, too, because research now confirms that the old insulin theory is not true.
As long as your overall carbohydrate requirements are met throughout the entire day, your muscle glycogen levels will return to full capacity on their own. Further still, it appears just eating protein (i.e. a whey protein shake) is sufficient in terms of providing an insulin spike. A 2011 study from Canadian researchers actually compared the effects of consuming 25g protein vs a combination of 25g protein and 50g carbs, to see if adding the carbs would play a significant role in bumping insulin levels to allow for greater hypertrophy. They conduded that it did not. (1, 2, 3, 4)
So Why Does It Work So Well?
There are two reasons why this trick is so successful.
Before I get into that, I’d just like to address something regarding the insulin theory above.
Science is always changing, so if we do happpen to see any new research which shows that eating carbs to spike insulin IS useful for building muscle (doubtful but possible), it’s worth knowing that you’re actually covering that base by grabbing a handful of Haribo Gummy Bears anyway, because 30 grams of carbs provides the same insulin spike as 90 grams. That’s 17 bears (not that I’m obsessed). (5)
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, the reason for success is simple:
“I used to restrict all nice foods and live on chicken and broccoli. It never, ever worked, but I felt trapped in a cycle of starting a diet, falling off plan, then beating myself up and re-starting, for nearly five years!
This little trick of earning a reward at the end of every workout was a game-changer for me. It showed me that treat foods can be worked into my diet without fear, I trained more consistently, didn’t crave sweets as much because they were part of my training anyway. For the first time in years I actually stayed on track and hit my weight loss targets!”
That says it all, doesn’t it?
These words came from an old client of mine, a former Weightwatchers member who, like most people, fell into the trap of excluding all treat foods from her diet. Research shows us that no food can inherently make you gain body fat, and working treats into your diet is a sure-fire way to boost consistency. (6)
So while the primary goal here was to give her a quick energy boost after training, the knock-on effect is that she improved her overall consistency with reduced cravings, and built a better relationship with food in the long-term, too.
Sure, you could also aquire dextrose by picking up a fancy powder to throw in your shake, but why would you want to substiture a pack of Haribo for a drink which tastes like dick?
- Parkin J. A., et al. Muscle glycogen storage following prolonged exercise: effect of timing of ingestion of high glycemic index food. Med Sci Sports Exerc (1997).
- Wojcik J. R., et al. Comparison of carbohydrate and milk-based beverages on muscle damage and glycogen following exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab (2001).
- Nilsson M., et al. Metabolic effects of amino acid mixtures and whey protein in healthy subjects: studies using glucose-equivalent drinks. Am J Clin Nutr (2007).
- Staples A. W., et al. Carbohydrate does not augment exercise-induced protein accretion versus protein alone. Med Sci Sports Exerc (2011).
- Glynn E. L., et al. Muscle protein breakdown has a minor role in the protein anabolic response to essential amino acid and carbohydrate intake following resistance exercise. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol (2010).
- Stewart T. M., et al. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite (2002).
Who Is Russ Howe PTI?
Russ has been a personal trainer in the UK since 2002, and provided both training advice and full programs on this website since 2011.
His work has been featured in Men’s Fitness magazine, and the content on this website led to him being voted one of the world’s top 50 fat loss coaches by HuffPost.
Russ’ days are spent coaching men and women in the legendary Powerhouse Gym, and creating new content for the 109,246 followers of his popular free weekly e-mail, which you can join below!