The way you eat has a major effect on the quality of your workouts, as well as the results you see from them. We know all about what you should eat before and after you head to the gym, but what about foods you should steer clear of? It can be tough to know exactly what to skip out on when you’re trying to fuel up, especially since what works for some people may not work for others. To find out the full rundown on foods that can cause problems during your sweat session, we decided to talk to expert nutritionists about what you should definitely avoid and why.
FOODS TO AVOID
1. Anything Processed: As per usual, processed foods are a no-no. But why are they so bad for your workouts specifically? Well, according to Faye Reid, dietician for MyProtein, “Processed foods take longer to digest, meaning it will take far longer for your body to make use of the nutrients, and you may feel bloated.” Bloating is really not ideal when you’re trying to sprint it out on the treadmill. If you’re trying to push your pace, you’ll want to eat something beforehand that your body can actually use during your workout.
2. High Fat Foods: We know that there are healthy fats and unhealthy fats, but Pam Nisevich Bede, a dietician with EAS Sports Nutrition, says that in this case, all fats are created equal. “Even the healthy kinds like avocados or nut butters can leave you feeling too full and weighed down. Plus, fats also loosen the sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus, which can create acid reflux for many people,” she says. So skip things like nuts, avocados, seeds, eggs, cheese, and anything else with high-fat content — no matter how healthy they are.
3. Foods Packed With Fiber: Fiber is amazing, but it’s not so great right before you head to your CrossFit class. “High fiber foods are not what you want pre-workout as they slow down digestion,” says Rebecca Lewis, in-house dietician at HelloFresh. “When you’re working out, fiber will draw blood away from the muscles you want to work and instead move it to your stomach to help you digest your food,” she explains. It’s also possible that the blood being used to do digestion could be diverted to your muscles, meaning that you won’t be able to digest properly, leading to discomfort. “Avoid high fiber veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, as well as beans — or ensure you give yourself at least one full hour to properly digest,” Lewis advises.
4. High Sugar Foods: Some people may need a spike of energy before exercising, but sugar is not the way to get it. “A common mistake is resorting to a sugary carbohydrate like a pastry or chocolate bar,” says Reid. “This may give you an energy spike for 20 minutes or so, but it will be followed by a crash in energy levels.” Yikes. Just when you’re hitting your stride, you’ll crash. Opt for healthy carbs like rice or whole wheat pasta, which will provide slow, usable energy.
5. Anything Citrus: Fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and even lemons can cause uncomfortable heartburn during your workout, says Bede. Even though it might seem healthy and light to snack on a clementine before your barre class, you could end up with some major discomfort during those plies.
EAT THIS INSTEAD
So what should you eat? “In general, I recommend my athletes and clients avoid foods that pack more than seven grams of fiber, 10 grams of fat, and 10 grams of protein within the hour before a workout,” notes Bede. Some examples of good choices include:
- Half of a whole grain bagel + a medium sliced banana
- One cup of unsweetened almond milk + one cup of rice cereal (Like Chex or Rice Krispies)
- 10 baby carrots + half a pita + two tablespoons of hummus
What do you like to eat before you hit the gym? Have you tried anything that didn’t work for you? Tell us about it @BritandCo!
(Photo via Getty)