7 Foods You Should Never Eat Before Working Out
There are many tips we are taught to optimize our workouts. From drinking a lot of water to stretching before and after exercise, there are always different components to think about during a workout session to make sure we're getting the best out of our morning jog or evening yoga. When it comes to food, however, the choices can get a bit tricky. No one likes to exercise when starving, but eat too much, and you'll likely feel a little bit sick from the feeling of food sloshing around your stomach at the gym.
When it comes to getting stronger and building muscle, your body needs the right type of fuel, and certain foods can actually hurt you rather than help you. Instead of eating large portions of heavy dishes, try to stick to small protein-filled foods that will keep you nourished, hydrated, and give you a steady boost of energy.
"Avoid nutrient-deficient and processed foods with preservatives, colorings, or too much sugar," says nutritionist Sara Vance. "Those won't support performance, focus, endurance or recovery."
Next time you're about to hit the treadmill, take into consideration the type of food you'l be consuming beforehand. If you're feeling weighed down or sluggish while exercising, try avoiding these seven foods for a more enjoyable workout with better and more comfortable results.
1. Pre-Workout Supplements
"Supplements labeled 'pre-workout' are a no-go," says personal trainer and nutritionist Brandon Mancine. "There are a few exceptions, but most of them just spike your cortisol (stress hormone) and actually diminish your workout benefit."
Avoid supplements labeled "Muscle Blasts" or supplements that contain caffeine, which can cause a further increase in cortisol levels.
Though you might be craving a quick energy boost before your workout, sugary foods like candy, soda, or energy bars will actually have the opposite effect on you.
"These sugar-laden options will send your blood sugar through the roof," says Mancine. "This won't matter too much during the warm up, but shortly after that, when you need it most, your energy supply will shut off when blood sugar crashes."
Eating dairy like milk or cheese before a workout can cause nausea or cramping because they contain high amounts of fat that are digested slowly, bringing down your energy levels.
"It can also make you feel sleepy and sluggish and give you gas, which is the last thing you want during a run," says trainer Jennifer Pattee.
4. Raw Vegetables And Hummus
"Although hummus and raw vegetables can be an incredibly healthy and delicious snack, the amount of fiber in the hummus and indigestible carbs in the veggies can cause bloating and indigestion while working out," says Pattee.
5. Spicy Food
Though that spicy Pad Thai may seem unsuspecting, eating too-hot foods before working out can cause indigestion and heartburn, which can not only hurt your performance, but make you extremely uncomfortable.
6. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a great source of fiber and can help keep you hydrated, but they're best consumed post-workout rather than before.
"Eating to much fiber before a workout can lead to stomach issues and an emergency bathroom break," says fitness expert Jenny Schatzle. "I would suggest ingesting them at least 2.5 hours before your workout to avoid gas and bloating during your workout."
7. Fried Foods
Eating large, heavy meals before a workout causes your digestive system to kick into full gear, and all that extra work can end up making you feel heavier and slow you down.
"Rich foods are harder to digest, which can lead to stomach pains, cramping, and side aches while working out," says Schatzle.