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鈥檙e 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.


Opened pack with potato chips over wooden table

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, 鈥淧rocessed 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.鈥 Bloating is really not ideal when you鈥檙e trying to sprint it out on the treadmill. If you鈥檙e trying to push your pace, you鈥檒l want to eat something beforehand that your body can actually use during your workout.

Directly Above Shot Of Food In Bowl

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. 鈥淓ven 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,鈥 she says. So skip things like nuts, avocados, seeds, eggs, cheese, and anything else with high-fat content 鈥 no matter how healthy they are.

The vegetables and fruits of a cauliflower and broccoli

3. Foods Packed With Fiber: Fiber is amazing, but it鈥檚 not so great right before you head to your CrossFit class. 鈥淗igh fiber foods are not what you want pre-workout as they slow down digestion,鈥 says Rebecca Lewis, in-house dietician at HelloFresh. 鈥淲hen you鈥檙e 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,鈥 she explains. It鈥檚 also possible that the blood being used to do digestion could be diverted to your muscles, meaning that you won鈥檛 be able to digest properly, leading to discomfort. 鈥淎void high fiber veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, as well as beans 鈥 or ensure you give yourself at least one full hour to properly digest,鈥 Lewis advises.

Close-Up Of Donut On Table

4. High Sugar Foods: Some people may need a spike of energy before exercising, but sugar is not the way to get it. 鈥淎 common mistake is resorting to a sugary carbohydrate like a pastry or chocolate bar,鈥 says Reid. 鈥淭his may give you an energy spike for 20 minutes or so, but it will be followed by a crash in energy levels.鈥 Yikes. Just when you鈥檙e hitting your stride, you鈥檒l crash. Opt for healthy carbs like rice or whole wheat pasta, which will provide slow, usable energy.

Citrus fruits arranged of a wooden table.

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.


So what should you eat? 鈥淚n 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,鈥 notes Bede. Some examples of good choices include:

Bagel with sliced banana
  • Half of a whole grain bagel +聽a medium sliced banana
  • One聽cup of unsweetened almond milk +聽one cup of rice cereal (Like Chex or Rice Krispies)
  • 10 baby carrots + half a聽pita + two聽tablespoons of聽hummus

What do you like to eat before you hit the gym? Have you tried anything that didn鈥檛 work for you? Tell us about it @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)