Need something to eat before you pump iron? Avoid these foods for a solid workout experience.
A lot of gym rats are concerned with, and rightfully so, which foods are best before a workout. Fruits? Whey protein powder? Nothing?
But what not to eat is an equally important consideration many gym-goers aren’t mindful of. Exercise requires large volumes of blood to energize working muscles, and coincidentally, blood flow through the stomach is impaired during exercise. Eating incorrectly will force your stomach to work harder, meaning less blood, and therefore less energy fueling your muscles.
Avoid these foods for a solid workout experience.
You know the saying: beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you…well, you know.
Dropping pre-workout fiber bombs simply isn’t good practice for exercise (nor is it considerate to other people with noses). You’ll feel stomach aches, bloating, and uncomfortable when moving. Additionally, upset stomachs are generally the result of the indigestible carbohydrate raffinose, which beans are a rich source of.
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This should be pretty obvious, but gym-goers with ‘iron stomachs’ feel they can eat anything and get away with it. Rather than putting your stomach to the Iron-Man test, it’s best to shy away from anything packing saturated fats (fries, burgers, pizza), as they stay in the digestive system longer, and are more difficult to break down.
Saturated fat-rich food can lead to bloating, cramping, and diarrhea – all unwelcome additions to any workout regimen.
What are cruciferous vegetables? Think bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower.
There’s no doubt these veggies have a place in your diet, seeing as they’re extremely healthy and contain anti-cancer properties. Having said that, they’re best enjoyed after a workout. Their sulfur-containing compounds are known to cause gas in people (see: rotten egg aroma).
They’re also high in the aforementioned raffinose, making cruciferous veggies a double whammy of digestive distress.
100% Fruit Juice
Alright, so the carbs and fluids in juice can be important and useful pre-workout nutrients. But chugging a glass immediately before a workout is a different thing.
Fruit juice is generally loaded with fructose, a slow-digesting sugar. The slow-mo digestion could lead to stomach cramps, making exercise a painful and uncomfortable ordeal.
Having said that, orange or tart cherry juices are ideal for active people, offering essential vitamins and minerals the body needs to recover from a vigorous workout. Just remember to consume them post-exercise, or at least an hour or more before hitting the gym.
Forget about stopping at your favourite pho or pad thai restaurant before the gym. Spicy foods can cause heartburn, the last thing you want in a workout. It’s actually best to avoid spicy stuff for up to 24 hours before exercise, giving your GI tract a breather. Opt for bland, easy-to-digest foods instead.
If spicy foods, fruit juice, and everything else featured on this list is what you religiously eat before exercise, here are five quick meal ideas that’s ideal food fuel for the gym:
- Oatmeal with fresh berries & nut butter
- Turkey sandwich with whole-grain bread
- Banana-and-peanut-butter bagel
- Rice bowl with (non-cruciferous) vegetables & chicken or salmon
- Yogurt/smoothie bowl