What Not to Eat Before a Workout
by Steven Auger
If you're planning out your day to make sure you get to the gym, why not plan your snacks, too? After all, they provide you with the fuel you need to get there and make the most of your sweat session!
You don't want a poorly planned meal choice to derail your time in the gym. So, don't fill your body with just any old food! It's best to plan ahead for the workout, so your body can reap the benefits.
Wondering what not to eat before a workout? Here are foods that some people have found to cause issues before exercising, as well as some healthy alternatives that can provide your body the energy it needs to power through — without any uncomfortable side effects!
Because cheese is high in both protein and fat, it takes longer to digest — which isn't necessarily a bad thing, unless you're about to work out. Particularly in the absence of carbohydrates (which are known to fuel high-intensity exercise), this type of dairy product is not considered an ideal pre-workout snack. You'd be better off if you combined a cheese stick with some carbs, like whole grain bread.
What to eat instead: Try a mixture of apples, almond butter, and raisins. According to Men's Journal, this tasty treat is high in carbs, has a moderate amount of protein, and is low in fat and fiber. Slice up an apple and spread them with a tablespoon (or two) of almond butter. Then sprinkle on some raisins, which act as a natural simple sugar to give you a touch of energy.
Beans are loaded with fiber and a wonderful source of protein — but they also contain raffinose, an indigestible carbohydrate. Consuming beans (or any fiber-rich food) prior to working out can cause bloating and gas. If you're limited to eating beans or other fibrous foods before your workout, keep the serving size small and wait at least 30 minutes before exercising.
What to eat instead: Try some whole wheat toast topped with sliced banana and cinnamon. Fitness Magazine recommends a good mix of complex carbs to provide energy throughout your workout. Bananas provide potassium to the body while cinnamon can help stabilize your blood sugar.
This one should be somewhat obvious, given the effects of consuming multiple servings of alcohol. Even if you think, "Well, it's just one glass of wine," waiting until after your workout is still the best bet, as alcohol can dehydrate the body. Excessive alcohol consumption can increase your chances of injuring yourself at the gym since your concentration and form might suffer.
What to drink instead: If building endurance is your plan and you have at least an hour before your workout, Men's Health recommends a fruit smoothie to get those necessary carbs. Blend a scoop of chocolate whey protein, a banana, a cup of water, a handful of spinach, and a tablespoon of peanut butter. If you prefer a thicker consistency, blend it with ice. Of course, smoothies aren't always accessible. If you're at the bar with friends and planning to still hit the gym later, opt for a cup of coffee. It will keep your motivation intact and could even benefit your workout.
While carbs are a good pre-workout fuel source, only consuming "simple carbs" like candy or cereal isn't recommended. This is because they cause your blood sugar levels to spike, and then, of course, drop — which can lead to fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, and poor performance, according to Men's Journal. Nothing you want to experience during an exercise session! For this reason, candy is also on the list of what not to eat before a workout.
What to eat instead: Oatmeal and fresh fruit is a great go-to snack before you head to the gym. This tasty dish is made up of both complex and simple carbs. The oatmeal provides energy for your workout while the fresh fruit adds a sweet touch.
As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.