Fit guys tend to avoid candy like the plague—after all, it’s loaded with sugar and very few healthy nutrients. But just because your favorite sweet treat isn’t as healthy as, say, steamed kale, doesn’t mean that you should delete it from your diet altogether. A study published in the journal Nutrition Research found that people who eat candy regularly have lower BMIs, smaller waist circumferences, and lower levels of inflammation than those who completely shun the sugary stuff. The reason? While candy may taste just as sweet as other desserts (like pies and cakes), a single serving is typically lower in saturated fat and calories. But the real benefit of treating yourself occasionally might be mental. “Depriving yourself of sugar altogether can actually make you crave it more—leading you to overindulge when you finally give in,” says White.
Your move: Reach for your sweet treats immediately after working out. That’s when your metabolism is running like a furnace and your glycogen-hungry muscles need quick-burning sugars for fuel, explains White. Limit yourself to a twice-weekly indulgence, and look for candy that contains less than 30 grams of sugar per serving. To aid in muscle repair—and to prevent the dreaded sugar crash—pair your post-workout candy with a lean protein source such as soybeans or sunflower seeds.