It’s impossible to get a good workout under way without the right fuel—but not all foods are created equal. While some foods make for great post-workout meals, they can also throw a wrench in your workout plans if eaten beforehand.
In fact, there’s a list of food items that you should avoid at all costs if you’re hoping to have a safe and productive workout session. These foods can lead to stomach discomfort, muscle cramping, and lethargy…making for one miserable session at the gym.
On the whole, yogurt is a healthy snack. It’s got protein, often boasts some fiber, and its probiotic qualities can keep your digestive system functioning like a well-oiled machine.
But yogurt is also a dairy food item, which could present problems for your workout. Even if you’re not particularly sensitive to dairy, it could lead to cramps, discomfort, even diarrhea. That’s why most health experts recommend holding off on the yogurt until after your workout is complete. And if you just can’t wait, try to eat that yogurt cup at least a couple hours before your workout begins.
There’s no denying that vegetables are incredibly healthy. They’re high in fiber and contain lots of water, which helps keep you feeling full and prevents us from indulging in less healthy food items.
But the high fiber content in veggies could present a problem if they’re eaten right before a workout. In fact, experts recommend avoiding these high-fiber food items precisely because they’re known to get the digestive tract chugging along—an awkward process to begin right before going to the gym. So, if you’d rather spending your workout session on the treadmill than the toilet, hold off on the veggies until afterwards.
Avocado has become one of those “must have” food items in recent years. And there’s good reason for that—it’s high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. But that’s precisely why eating avocado before a workout is a bad idea.
You see; eating anything high in fat, like avocado, can make us feel very lethargic. Studies have shown that eating a high-fat diet can significantly cut energy levels, making it difficult for us to find the drive necessary to burn calories and build muscle while at the gym. So, leave the guacamole until after your workout is done.
Fruit and veggies smoothies are great breakfast options. They contain all of the fiber and some of the protein required to get you through a busy morning. But smoothies may not be the best pre-workout meal.
For one, they’re quickly digested, meaning that if you have a smoothie a couple hours before a workout, you might be running on empty by the time you hit the gym. Second, they’re often very high in fiber, which can result in stomach discomfort. Finally, if you’re using milk as a base, you could start to feel a bit queasy as your workout intensifies.
We’ve all seen the commercials where the chocolate bar manufacturer claims that their product can give you a much-needed burst of energy. And that’s true, to some extent eating a high-sugar, high-carbohydrate food can give you a boost of energy and help you exercise.
The problem is that most snacks, like chocolate bars, come with a sugar crash. This can leave you wheezing and unable to continue your workout. Instead, try something that is slower to digest, like a whole grain cereal or energy bar that’s lower in sugar—it will keep you going longer and help you enjoy a better workout.
Protein bars are great if eaten after a workout. But they’re not always the best food choice before a workout begins. That’s because they’re often loaded with sugar, which means they come with a big, old sugar crash. Second, they’re often high in protein, but low in carbohydrates, which means they won’t provide the fuel you need to get through a workout.
If you’re determined to eat some kind of a food bar before going to the gym, look for energy bars that are packed with whole grains, but lower in sugar. Many energy bars are designed specifically for this purpose.
We all know that soda is a delicious but fairly unhealthy beverage choice. But it’s also a poor choice for a pre-workout drink—that’s because it’s high in sugar, which can lead to a nasty sugar crash. Soda is also carbonated, which can upset the stomach and cut a workout short of its desired length.
When looking for pre-workout beverages, try low-sugar drinks—like no sugar added juices and good, old-fashioned water. They’ll keep you feeling hydrated and won’t bring about the hated sugar crash.