TikTok Users Are Eating Rice Krispies Treats Before Their Workouts—And It's Not Bad Advice
Why you might want to reach for your fave childhood snack before your next HIIT session.
Need a boost before you start your exercise routine? Leave it to TikTok to recommend your next new pre-workout snack. The latest trend, according to users on the app, is eating a Rice Krispies Treat before getting your sweat on. "It's supposed to give you an insane pump," one TikTok user shared in a video with more than 100,000 likes.
Here's the gist: Caroline Klinger, MS, RD, a sports dietitian who dueted the original TikTok, says cereal in general is a great source of exercise fuel—the simple carbohydrates hit the bloodstream fast, providing an instant energy boost for a workout. But because not everyone can tolerate milk, Klinger suggests a Rice Krispies Treat as a better option than a bowl of cereal.
So in this case, TikTokers may actually be right—but like every trend or claim, this one too comes with some caveats. Here's what you need to know about fueling up with a Rice Krispies Treat before a workout, according to sports nutritionists and trainers.
Is a Rice Krispies Treat actually a good pre-workout snack?
The short answer: It definitely can be. According to Audra Wilson, MS, RD, CSOWM, LDN, a dietitian with the Northwestern Medicine Athletic Training and Sports Performance Clinic, simple carbohydrates (think: toast, waffles, cereal, and granola bars) are indeed the best source of quick energy for before a workout.
Here's why simple carbs are such an efficient way to fuel the body: As Klinger explains in her video, they allow energy to go straight to the bloodstream, without getting sidetracked too much in the digestive tract. "We don't want complex carbs right before a workout, because then more blood goes to the stomach to help with digestion," Wilson tells Health.
On top of providing quick energy for exercise, Rice Krispies Treats are convenient—they're shelf-stable (so they won't go bad fast), and they're easy to stick in a purse or gym bag.
That said, a sugary cereal bar isn't the right pre-workout for everyone. Jeffrey Lucchino, MS, RDN, CSSD, director of Sports Nutrition for UPMC Sports Medicine, says he'd recommend a Rice Krispies Treat before a high-intensity cardio or strength workout, but not necessarily for someone who's going to take a casual bike ride or walk around the block. "In that case, you could have a balanced snack an hour before, but you don't need a higher-carb power-packed snack," he tells Health.
If, for example, you're planning to go to the gym and do an hour of high-intensity interval training, Lucchino says he'd recommend a Rice Krispies Treat within an hour of your workout. Athletes who train several hours a day will need even more fuel. In that case, Lucchino recommends replenishing with 30-60 grams of simple carbs every hour or so (and, of course, amply hydrating throughout your workout).
Roxie Jones, CPT, CFSC, a Precision Nutrition Level 2-certified trainer, founder of BodyROX, and Alo Moves instructor, also likes to snack on Rice Krispies Treats before an intense workout. "You don't feel full or bloated and you can get right into your training session," she tells Health, adding that they're "quite nostalgic."
Are there healthier options than a Rice Krispies Treat?
It depends what you mean by "healthy." Typically, dietitians recommend complex carbohydrates like whole grains as part of a balanced diet, but simple carbs are an important part of athletic performance. "The athlete population needs more quick fuel than a general person," Lucchino says.
And you'd think a whole food, like a piece of fruit, would be a better option than a processed bar, but Lucchino says in this case, it's best to avoid fiber—it sits in the stomach for a long time, which can slow down athletic performance. (Plus, it's hard to work out hard when you feel full, bloated, or have to go to the bathroom.)
One potential concern Klinger shares in her video: Rice Krispies Treats contain a lot of high-fructose corn syrup, a form of added sugar derived from corn. She recommends the Cloud 10 bar—which packs 15 grams of protein, more carbs and 40% less sugar than Rice Krispies Treats—as a healthier alternative.
According to Jones, you can also find similar treats made from brown rice (or you can make your own with brown rice cereal, like this option from Barbara's Bakery, found on Amazon). "Brown rice [crispy treats] made with brown rice syrup [are] slower digesting [options with] more macronutrients," she says.
Can you eat a Rice Krispies Treat before a workout every day?
There are a few things to consider before adding Rice Krispies Treats into your daily pre-workout routine. First is portion control—for example, your workout won't necessarily benefit from an entire tray of home-baked Rice Krispies Treats. Instead, Wilson recommends the snack-sized, pre-packaged kind—but ideally, only when you don't have another option.
While Lucchino doesn't have any qualms with a daily Rice Krispies Treat for athletes, Wilson views the snack as an add on or last resort. "I don't know if I'd do it every day, because of the high-fructose corn syrup, but it could be part of your repertoire if you like it," she says.
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