Believe it or not, Haribo Gummy Bears are one of the best foods you can eat alongside your post workout whey protein shake…
Yes, I’m talking about those little pieces of miniature heaven.
My clients get strange looks from people at the gym when they tuck into Haribo jellies after training, so in today’s article I want to show you why they do it (and why I also do it).
But first of all, let me clear something up:
Just because something is typically classed as “sweets”, doesn’t mean it’s automatically bad for you.
I say this because the most common question I get regarding post workout Haribo Gummy Bears is:
“But Russ, surely that doesn’t work? They’re jelly!?”
The are indeed.
But they’re also damn near perfect post workout nutrition.
Why Post Workout Haribo Gummy Bears Are Awesome
After a hard workout, our body starts screaming for protein and carbohydrates to restock our depleted muscles.
For protein, whey is the easy choice.
It’s fast-digesting, meaning it will hit your muscles without needing to be broken down first.
But when it comes to carbohydrates, many people mistakenly opt for food choices like fruit.
Hey, I’ve got nothing against it.
I have fruit every day.
But it’s not the optimal choice immediately after a workout.
That’s because around 50% of the sugar found in fruit is fructose. Before it can be used, fructose must be broken down, thereby slowing the process of feeding those starving muscles which are still shaking from your killer leg workout.
Instead, opt for sugar in the form of dextrose (a.k.a. glucose).
Like whey, dextrose doesn’t need to be broken down before it can be used, making it an even faster way to hit your muscles with some quick carbs.
Haribo Gummy Bears are ideal for this, as are Wonka Pixy Stix, as the main for of sugar used is… dextrose!
Do We Need To Spike Insulin After A Workout?
This is where things get controversial…
Bodybuilding folklore states that we should also spike our insulin levels in the post workout window, as it will allow for greater uptake of nutrients and aid the recovery process.
However, I disagree.
Although this was believed to be the case for many years, research now shows that the bigger picture is all that counts.
Meaning as long as your carbohydrate intake is sufficient overall, muscle glycogen levels will return to full capacity on their own. (1, 2)
Further still, whey protein provides us with a big enough insulin spike anyway. (3)
So even if we did need to spike insulin immediately after training to build more muscle, we’d already be doing it via our whey protein shake.
Don’t just take my word for it.
A 2011 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise investigated this very question.
Researchers compared the effects of consuming 25 grams of whey protein against 25 grams of whey protein and 50 grams of carbohydrates to note whether the carbs played a significant role in raising insulin levels.
They concluded that it did not. (4)
Why It Really Works
So if it’s not about spiking our insulin levels, what is it about?
And why is it a trend which caught on so well with my female clients?
Well, the answer is twofold…
First, it’s about increasing adherence. This is flexible dieting 101.
Research clearly demonstrates that you can still eat your favorite treats along the way to building a great body. In fact, doing so usually leads to far greater success rates than trying to go “full clean eating”. (5)
Here’s some words from a client of mine, a former WeightWatchers member who had previously struggled with her diet:
“I used to try cutting all treats out. It never worked. I re-started my diet every week for 5 years.
Suddenly, this novel little thing of earning myself a little reward after training, I found myself training harder, sticking to my overall diet more than ever…
It changed everything, and I saw results in the mirror for the very first time.”
So how many bears?
That’s about 30 grams of carbs in Haribo currency.
(Not that I’m obsessed…)
This is enough to quench a sweet tooth and feel like you’ve rewarded yourself for training hard, without it making too big of a dent in your overall daily calorie targets, and there’s a hidden secondary benefit also.
You see, if future research goes back on itself and suggests we should spike insulin via carbs in the post workout window, 30 grams of carbs is sufficient to do that.
In fact, it provides as much of an insulin spike as 90 grams! (6)
So you’re earning a treat, curbing your sweet tooth, and covering your bases to support muscle growth and fat loss.
The Post Workout Haribo Train Rolls On
I’ve used this little diet hack for years, and so have many of my clients.
They’ve constantly gotten “funny looks” from people at the gym, and had people advise them they must be “doing it wrong”…
… but the results still kept coming.
And that’s why I put this article together. To show you how and why they do it, and why it won’t sabotage results. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to live on chicken and broccoli for the rest of your life if you want to be in shape.
Feel free to apply my post workout Haribo Gummy Bears rule to your nutrition plan if you feel it will help you with sustainability.
Earn them. Enjoy them. Savor them.
Do things to those jellies that would make your partner jealous, then move the f**k on with your damn day.
- 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)
- Stewart T. M., et al. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite. (2002)
- 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)