Halloween is almost here, Mudder Nation! The holidays are about to kick into high gear and Halloween is the first to usher in the season of good eats. But the rush of sugar, carbs, and pumpkin-spiced everything doesn’t have to derail your nutrition plan. As the saying goes, “Everything in moderation—including moderation."
While there is nothing wrong with occasionally indulging, it’s important to be mindful about what we eat, especially if we want to be able to crush the next Mudder obstacle course. If you live an active lifestyle, then you likely don’t have to worry too much about a few the extra calories in your diet. In fact, you could even swap out sports gels and energy drinks for a wee bit of Halloween candy.
Don’t believe us? Registered dietitian Lauren Cadillac, CLT, CPT says it can sometimes be better to indulge in a craving rather than waiting it out, so if you're white-knuckling your way past the Halloween candy aisle, give yourself permission to indulge a little. "By choosing what we 'think' we should eat instead of what we are truly in the mood for, we are left unsatisfied and searching for more," Cadillac says. "This can result in us eating beyond our true hunger needs in an effort to fill this void. Long story short: eat what you are actually craving and enjoy it fully. You will be much more satisfied."
Laura Lynn Iacono, registered dietician and Nutrition Resource Manager at Long Island Cares agrees that in moderation, some candy is okay, and could even be an acceptable energy booster in certain training sessions. “A piece of candy is okay for a short workout of one hour or less for a quick simple sugar replacement, if you had a drop in blood sugar and are experiencing symptoms," she says.
Don't Get Tricked
Yay, bring on all the Halloween candy! Well, not quite: "For longer, more sustainable energy during workouts or races that last more than two hours, high quality, bio-available sources of proteins and whole grains without added simple sugar are best," Iacono continues. "Candy in general is not one of the five food groups, so making it one and eating it everyday on a regular basis is not recommended." Boo! (And not like what a ghost says.)
The Best Candy for Athletes
Let's also keep in mind that not all candy is created equal. So if you're looking for treats instead of tricks this Halloween, consider choosing the options below. Sure, they aren't as good as bio-available sources of protein and whole grains, but they aren't the worst things either. We even threw in a note about the types of activities you’ll want to stick with post-nibbling. You’re welcome.
Candy Corn, Skittles, Jelly Beans, hard candies
These high-sugar candies are best for people with sensitive stomachs or those who don’t like to workout after eating, but still want a little fuel. Because of the high sugar content, you’ll want to follow it up with a high intensity cardio session (think Zumba or a rowing machine). But with the sugar high comes the inevitable crash, so keep it to a short but intense workout sesh if you’re not eating much else.
Snickers, Almond Joy, PayDay
These candies are all high in fat. A fun-sized Almond Joy, for example, clocks in at 4.5 grams of fat and 8 grams of sugar. However, with just 1 gram of protein, it isn’t the healthiest option compared to say ... a handful of raw almonds. But, it’s important to note the high fat content can be a strong energy source as long as it comes from natural sources like peanuts, almonds, and coconut. These candies are great for longer, slower workouts. Save them for an extra burst of energy before heading into yoga or going for a hike.
Reese's Cups, Snickers Peanut Butter, Peanut M&M's
Ah yes, chocolate and peanut butter—everyone's favorite combo. Because peanut butter is high in protein, these candies tend to be high in it, too, which is good for recovery. For example, peanut butter M&M’s have 3 grams of protein, which is a whopping 3 grams more than the big fat zero grams of protein found in jelly beans. But, if we’re being honest with you, something less refined like whole grain crackers with cheese or a banana with peanut butter, is really a much healthier choice. But you already knew that!
Michelle LaFiura is the Social Media Associate at TMHQ and never passes up candy. You can find her on Instagram @TheLostJournalist.