It’s essential to fuel your body properly before a workout.
This means eating foods that will give you sustained energy and avoiding those that will make you feel sluggish.
If you are participating in some form of athletic competition, the wrong foods or drinks before your event can prevent you from performing your best.
And even if you are just working out for general fitness, eating poorly before a workout can make you feel uncomfortable, decrease your motivation to exercise, and reduce the benefits you get from your exercise.
Here are some of the worst offenders regarding pre-workout foods and drinks.
A large, filling meal before exercising will make you feel sluggish, tired and may even cause cramping or indigestion.
When you are digesting a big meal, doing some light activity like walking or stretching can help move things along. But if you will be doing anything more strenuous than that, it’s best to eat at least 2 hours before working out.
Refined carbs have been stripped of most of their fiber and nutrients.
Examples include white bread, white rice, pastries, and sugary cereals.
While carbohydrates are an important source of energy, refined carbs generally cause a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin. This can lead to fatigue, headaches, and other symptoms that may interfere with your workout.
Instead, focus on whole-grain carbs, which will avoid causing such a dramatic spike in blood sugar.
Fiber is important for regulating digestion and promoting healthy bowel movements.
But eating a high-fiber meal right before exercising can lead to cramping, bloating, and other digestive issues.
Beans and green vegetables are particularly high in fiber. They are great for your overall health, but eating them a few hours before working out is best.
Carbonated drinks like soda and sparkling water can cause bloating and gassiness.
This can be uncomfortable and may even interfere with your ability to do certain exercises.
Soda also contains a lot of sugar (and sometimes caffeine), which could give you an initial burst of energy but may cause a crash later on.
Not only will alcohol impair your coordination and increase your risk of injury, but it is also dehydrating, making you feel more tired, decreasing your performance, and potentially causing fainting or dizziness.
Alcohol can also change the way your body metabolizes carbohydrates and fat. This means that your body may need help to use these nutrients as efficiently for energy during your workout.
Junk foods like candy, cookies, and chips are generally high in calories, unhealthy fats, and added sugars.
Their pleasurable taste may boost your mood, but the energy from these foods is generally short-lived and will not sustain you through a workout.
Junk food can also offset the health benefits you get from exercise. You can easily eat way more calories than you burn off during your workout by eating just a few cookies or a small bag of chips.
Instead, snack on some fruit or nuts for a pre-workout energy boost that will also give you a healthier balance of nutrients, calories, and fiber.