When it comes to gearing up for workout, you need to make sure you have a combination of carbs and protein to provide a stream of energy during the strenuous exercise and enough nutrients to repair your muscles afterward. Not eating before a workout can result in low blood sugar, light-headedness and fatigue.
While it might be common sense not to load up on cupcakes, pizza, or beer an hour or two before a session, there are some more surprising – even healthy under different circumstances – pre-workout foods that are guaranteed to weigh you down. Read further to discover which ingredients make the poorest exercise fuel and what to go for instead.
While a diet rich in veggies is recommended for any normal diet, raw greens like kale, spinach and broccoli can cause serious discomfort if consumed before intense physical activities. Their high fiber content is almost guaranteed to cause gas and bloating. If you’re feeling like having something light before the workout, swap a green salad for a green smoothie. Mixing your favorite fruit with a half a cup of greens, water, and some dried oats or granola will go down much easier and make for a much more comfortable session.
Unfortunately, most brands on the market offer little in the way of nutrition while packing too much sugar. Sure, sports drinks can offer some vitamins and electrolytes, but that high sugar content quickly goes right through your system causing you to crash later on.
If you opt for a lower sodium tomato juice, you provide your body with potassium, promote healthy blood pressure, and even help yourself stay hydrated thanks to its low-sodium content.
HUMMUS OR BEAN DIP
Beans might be some of the best sources of protein around, however prepackaged hummus and bean dips too often contain lots of added oils and are prone to molding. By personally soaking the beans prior to cooking them, you can be sure that the mold has been released from them. Otherwise, you run the risk of consuming a high-mold food that can lead to inflammation and reduction of oxygen consumption. Try going for a few bites of low-fat cottage cheese instead – it’s lighter, equally satisfying and rich in protein, without all the oil.
WHOLE GRAIN BREADS AND MUFFINS
Getting the whole-grain version is not the best idea when you’re about to work out. All carbs that are yeast, mold, and gluten bound are inflammatory, meaning they hold water and cause bloating. They are a sugar so you will get the energy, but the side effects outweigh the benefits. Opting for a plain, white tortilla that has less fiber instead, and topping it with a little nut butter and sliced banana will provide you with an extra kick of energy, without the inflammation risks.
Similarly, a fistful of raw seeds pre-workout might only leave you with bloat and stomach discomfort because of their fat content. By combining them with other foods that are lower in fiber you can limit this side effect. Try mixing a teaspoon or two of your favorite seeds with a half cup of oatmeal. This combination of fat, protein, and carbs is exactly what your body needs to perform at its best.
Eating spicy food might just turn your session into a crampy, heartburn-inducing workout. Foods rich with flavor and seasoning require a great deal of digestion time, pushing you to a nap rather than a workout. If you’re craving something bold and savory, choose some chicken or turkey jerky that is packed with protein and low in mostly everything else. As always, looks for brands that have reduced sodium and little or none artificial additives.
Crafty marketing brought proteins bars to the gym. However, more often than not the protein bar is loaded with sugar and fairy dusting of some kind. When looking for something on-the-go and a bar is all you can find, make sure it’s one that offers up at least a 50-50 split of sugar and fat content.