Many fitness enthusiasts try to eat the right foods before a workout session to fuel their needed energy during the activity. There is a whole industry that promotes specific pre-workout meals and snacks as a healthy alternative to going into a high impact fitness regimen with an empty stomach.
However, there are some common foods and drinks that should never, ever be part of your pre-workout nutrition strategy. Surprisingly, some of these undesirable food and snack items do not look like unhealthy food choices at first glance.
While low-fat dairy products are often called the perfect food by some nutrition experts, milk, cheese, and other dairy is best consumed after a workout and not before. The reason for this is that dairy foods and beverages have a higher fat content.
Too much fat can make people feel sluggish and lethargic, and this makes it difficult to stay energized enough to finish an exercise session at full energy capacity.
Additionally, dairy products tend to increase acid levels in the stomach, and many individuals have difficulties digesting dairy products and often feel gassy, bloated, and nauseous after consumption. This gastrointestinal distress is greater for those who are lactose intolerant.
Fried and Overly Fatty Foods
Healthy fats are important for better mental concentration and long-term energy stores the body needs for ideal health. It is important to understand that diets higher in fat content are incredibly unhealthy and can lead to cardiovascular problems like heart attacks and strokes.
Fats take longer to digest, and consuming even healthy fats just before a training session will not give you the necessary immediate energy fuel source required to workout at your fullest potential. Eating too much fat can counteract your pre-workout preparation and make your body divert more blood circulation towards your digestive system rather than providing the needed muscle energy stores for intense workouts.
Instead, eat nuts, and other healthy fat-containing foods at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours before a planned workout training session or wait to enjoy as a post-workout snack.
Too Many Heavy Laden Carbs
Some nutrition buffs recommend consuming foods and snacks containing carbohydrates just before going to the gym or engaging in physical activity. Individuals should be aware that too many carbs right before exercise can have a negative impact on your needed energy levels, mental clarity, and physical weight and fat stores later on. While some carbs are recommended before exercise, avoid carbohydrate-dense foods like bleached pasta dishes, starchy snacks such as chips, white bread, and empty calorie desserts, especially before a workout.
Legumes, like beans, lentils, and chickpeas, are generally considered by many to be a good source of protein and other nutritional elements necessary for good health overall.
Beans contain a specific carbohydrate termed raffinose, which can cause unwanted stomach bloating, stomach discomfort, and gassy feelings when mixed with this protein source’s natural fiber content.
Alcohol, Carbonated, Caffeine Laden or Sugary Drinks
Your choice of beverages consumed just before exercise also matters. Avoid alcoholic drinks, fizzy carbonated sodas, or even carbonated water. Also, pass on caffeine-infused teas or coffee and high sugar content drinks for the best fitness and weight loss results.
Alcoholic drinks and high caffeine content beverages can cause dehydration due to how these substances act on the body during digestion. Avoid drinking too much coffee, caffeinated teas, sugary sodas, and carbonated water beverages right before working out.
Drinking alcohol can also lower a person’s mental focus, decrease inhibitions, and may be a factor in sports-related and workout injuries. Save your glass of wine or cold beer for another time.
Some advertised sports or energy drinks are dangerous to health. They contain a vast amount of caffeine and sugars that put stress on your cardiovascular system and can thwart even the best weight loss goals due to the high caloric content. Stick with water in moderation for your pre-workout.
Individuals are surprised to find cruciferous veggies on the don’t eat before the workout list. These crunchy foods increase digestive system gases due to its sulfur content that is harder to digest. Avoid broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts until later.
Leafy Greens or Salads
Also on the list for foods to avoid pre-workout are salads and leafy greens. These diet staples that can fill your stomach up without adding many calories, but are still harder to digest and contain no immediately usable energy that your body craves during a workout session.
Avocados, Raw Seeds or Too Many Nuts
Avocados can provide many nutritious benefits like healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, but don’t include this delicious food as part of your before exercise diet plan. Raw seeds, too many nuts, and avocados may cause abdominal bloating and discomfort and take too long to digest to be included on the safe pre-workout food list.
With all of these cautions regarding foods to avoid pre-workout, are there any foods that are beneficial before exercising? The answer is yes.
Consider these pre-workout food ideas:
- Choose low-fat almond sprinkles on top of a healthy low-fat smoothie for more energy and strength.
- Spread a whole wheat tortilla with a light layer of peanut butter and sliced bananas for a quick energy boost.
- Rice cakes are another great choice.
- Enjoy some Greek low-fat yogurt with no sugar.
Eating a healthy diet and watching what you eat before and after workouts is key to overall fitness success and healthy living. To learn more about healthy eating and fitness tips, follow us on Facebook.