It’s a great idea to fuel your body before a workout, but the foods you choose deserve some consideration. Sure, all foods have calories, but you need the right mix of carbs, protein and healthy fats to fuel your workout so that you can get the most out of it. Clearly, not just anything will do. While you probably know what good ones are (yogurt, cereal, granola bars, fruit or a peanut butter sandwich), there are some you should never eat before you head to the gym. Here they are!
1. Greasy, Salty French Fries
While potatoes do contain carbs, which are great for energy, French fries are a terrible choice before a workout. They are greasy and will just sit there in your stomach, digesting really slowly. This will hinder your progress and even make you sluggish at a time when you really want to be fast. If you must have fries, save them for when you’re done exercising.
2. A Big Healthy Salad
What? That’s right. Vegetables can be a bad choice before you exercise, according to experts. That’s because they can cause bloating and gas, which will make you really uncomfortable while you run on the treadmill or dance it up at Zumba. Yes, you should definitely be eating your veggies, but have that salad after your exercise or earlier in the day.
3. A Tall Glass of Soda
In general, you should avoid soda all the time. It’s full of sugar, calories and refined carbs and doesn’t do you any good. It’s especially bad before a workout because the carbonation will bubble around in your stomach, slowing you down and making your gut feel unsettled and gassy. Have some water instead. You’ll be much happier.
4. That Tempting Chocolate Donut
Yes, sugar gives you a rush and can boost your energy levels. However, donuts (and other sugary junk, for that matter), are a really bad choice pre-workout. When you come down off the sugar high and enter the crash zone that always follows, your workout may end up being cut short or you’ll be too fatigued to give it your all. For the most part, sugary foods should be an occasional indulgence.
5. Fruit Juice to Go
It sounds healthy, and the 100% fruit versions can be, but it’s a no-no before your exercise session. Why? Because they don’t have the right kind of carbs to give you sustained energy for an entire workout. Also, they can cause diarrhea and stomach upset, especially if you haven’t eaten anything recently. That’s reason enough for me. What about you?
6. A Handful of Crunchy Nuts
Yes, nuts are generally a healthy choice and offer you plenty in the nutrition department. However, though they are high in fiber and protein, they lack the fuel-giving carbs that you need before you exercise. Crunch on a handful after you get done working out and all that protein will help your muscles recover and stay strong and healthy.
7. A Dish of Cheesy Mexican Food
I’m not one to pass up a smothered burrito or a place of tacos, but I definitely decline before heading to the gym. A heavy meal, like one that is covered in melted cheese, will leave you lethargic and basically too full to move. Not to mention that all the beans will leave you bloated and gassy, which makes exercise agonizing.
What’s your go-to pre-workout snack? What things do you avoid?