The Best Post-Workout Supplement Is…Gummy Bears?

Gummy Bears after practice
Photo Courtesy: Brie Harnden

By Brie Harnden, Swimming World College Intern.

It’s no secret that eating healthy is important for athletes. Though Michael Phelps’ 10,000-calories-a-day diet may have been exaggerated, it is understood that swimmers and other endurance athletes require large amounts of nutrients to sustain themselves through strenuous workouts.

It is crucial for athletes to follow a nutritious diet, and the period after working out is especially important for recovery. What you eat – and when – makes all the difference.

Why Gummy Bears?

Gummy bears smile

Photo Courtesy: Brie Harnden

Swimming is exhausting. At the end of practice, the fibers of the muscles have endured miniature tears – which is good, because that’s how you get stronger. These micro-traumas alert your body that you need nutrients, particularly amino acids, to repair them.

Amino acids trigger protein synthesis, a necessary and automatic process of muscle repair after exercise. Every time the muscle is “torn” and repaired, it gets a little thicker and larger, eventually building in size and strength. Beginning to repair these muscles uses energy as well, so getting out of the pool or weight room is not the end of your energy exertion.

This is where the gummy bears enter the scene. Gummy bears and other high-glycemic carbohydrates with dextrose or maltodextrin provide a quick source of sugar to help start replenishing what’s been lost. Because your body is still using energy, the sugar is used immediately and doesn’t get stored as fat.

Recovery Smoothie

Photo Courtesy: Ken Hawkins

Unfortunately, a handful of sweets alone is not the key to fueling your body. Glycogen stores are depleted after a tough workout, so those carbohydrates are certainly necessary. However, they should be paired with a quality protein source such as whey powder, chicken, turkey, fish, beans, or tofu.

The sooner you eat those gummy bears, the sooner your body can utilize the protein paired with it to repair muscle micro tears. The carb-protein combination replenishes depleted energy stores, promotes the recovery process and is part of a balanced diet that swimmers need to feel healthy and strong.

When You Should Fuel

It is widely agreed by dieticians, doctors and exercise physiologists that eating after a workout is important; however, debate exists regarding the “window of opportunity.” Essentially, there have been studies suggesting that a post-workout window, lasting anywhere between 45 minutes and two hours, is the most important time to eat after working out.

Anything later than this time frame is seen as detrimental to nutrient absorption and the recovery process as a whole. A wide variety of factors including fitness level, workout length and difficulty, and amount of food consumed creates a wide range in this window, which raises questions about whether the window even exists.

Luckily, most swimmers are so hungry that eating within an hour or so of practice is not an issue. Studies have more conclusively shown a drop in benefits and nutrition absorption a few hours after practice, so as a general rule of thumb, it’s better to eat sooner rather than later.

How Much To Eat


Photo Courtesy: Jacki Cronin

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 0.5 to 0.7 grams of carbohydrates should be consumed for every pound of body weight. For someone who is 150 pounds, this adds up to about 75 grams. This should be coupled with 20 to 40 grams of protein.

Mixing It Up

Being encouraged to eat something sweet after practice can help combat those late-night sugar cravings. On top of the physical health benefits, you get your daily sugar fix!

Don’t have much of a sweet tooth? Some of the more popular gummy bear brands may not be best for you. Luckily, there are plenty of other options! Black Forest Organic and YumEarth organic provide the same quick sugar with different tastes and textures than Haribo or Albanese, more widely known because of their exotic flavors and extreme chew.

Gummy worms can get the job done too. Ultimately, it’s up to each athlete to determine which combinations of sugar and protein work best for them.

Treat Your Engine Right


Photo Courtesy: Indiana Swimming & Diving/Twitter

If you were driving a BMW, you would not fuel it with regular gasoline. You would spend a little extra money and fill your tank with premium fuel, which optimizes the power and fuel efficiency of the vehicle.

Swimmers are just like luxury cars. Some athletes have bad habits, eating only what’s quick and satiating without thinking about the consequences it could have on their bodies.

If we all spent a little extra time and effort planning what, how much, and when we eat, perhaps we would get the maximum power and efficiency output in return. We all want to swim fast and feel great!

All nutritional research was conducted by the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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  1. Adriana Silva

    Danielle Fuhrman Dangot Lica Buchman

    • Lica Buchman

      Usamos parecidos durante corrida e pedal. Pode ser !! Lembrando que , como no texto , deve estar ajustado ao gasto calórico e ser ingerido na hora certa … pq é açúcar também…. 😘😘

  2. Chris Cervantes

    Chad Washam Angelique Heckendorf Jones Richard Prestia Ken Brar

    • Chad Washam

      Chris Cervantes gummy’s are one of my favorite but hard to eat after I was told how they are made.

    • Crystal Buss

      I was told by a dentist when Nate was little absolutely no gummy anything! Including fruit snacks ( they are only sugar too people) Sooooo bad for your teeth. so my kids have been deprived.

    • Chris Cervantes

      Crystal Buss I pack fruit and a protein 😃👍🏻 But today I did packed like two or three gummy worms LOL

    • Crystal Buss

      Chris Cervantes I think Emma is old enough now to eat what she wants. Pretty soon she will be able to pay for her own dental bills 😂😂😂

    • Nicole Dzubur

      Probably because glucose is so depleted after practice that it stabilizes your sugar. I can’t read it right now but that is my best bet.

    • Betsy Lavin

      They’re on my bedside table…

  3. Leslie Tomlinson

    Lol Ross Hedrick Gummy Bear was on to something!

    • Ross Hedrick

      A genuis in his own time! He’s back with us for the summer. I sent him your post.

      Hope you are doing well with your shoulder.

  4. Laurent Demeur

    Anicée Heylemans-Demeur bon pour les plans récupération nutrition tout ca!!

  5. Sara Stacy

    Elizabeth Taylor and the sour worms

    • Mike Molloy

      Haha, well… basic philosophies that they’re describing of protein plus a fast absorbing carb is on point. I also believe there’s no fructose in gummy bears as well, so thats a good thing. I would still stick with a powdered carb like cyclic dextran for the fastest absorption but I’ve seen way crazier ideas for an immediate post workout shake. Just gotta remember to follow it up with a real meal that contains some micronutrient dense food sources within an hour as well. Macros AND micros… not just one or the other.

  6. Vic Stawik

    Yep I always had mine handy.

  7. Elizabeth Taylor

    Yep. Actually have those gummy bears at home now but sour ones. Couldn’t get the sour hearts in the weekend

    • Lauren Holmes

      🤣🤣🤣See, I support your good habit!!

  8. Sam Dalby

    Lori Smith Erickson you were ahead of the game

    • Lori Smith Erickson

      Well for me it was always gummy worms. Is there a difference?

    • Sam Dalby

      Not if they were made of sugar I guess

  9. Sarah Hunter

    Josh Hunter forget the monohydrate crap you’ve been drinking 🙄

    • Sarah Hunter

      Josh Hunter I’m sure Nick Rose would prefer a gummy bear

  10. Keeley Coffee

    Rachel Ellen Boodt now I can finally put that bag of gummy bears to good use!

  11. Peter Yates

    We’ve known this for years.

  12. Neil Morgan

    After training I’m always craving something sweet. I should keep to Haribo, instead of cake, trifle, or chocolate. Or just have both 😈

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