Worst Things to Eat or Drink Before a Workout

June 3, 2020

Oatmeal or protein bars
These might seem like a good idea before you hit the gym, but there’s no clear definition of what they actually are. Check the labels – both can have a lot of sugar. If they do, your body will burn them fast and you may not get much else out of them.

High-fibre vegetables
Your body needs fiber, but not before a workout. Vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts or cauliflower can be difficult to digest and may make exercise uncomfortable. Stick to vegetables that are easier on your system, like cooked asparagus or potatoes.

high fat food
Not all fats are bad for you. But if you’re about to be active, foods that have lots of any fat might be a bad idea. Things like red meat will make your body work hard to convert its fat into energy. This can leave you feeling tired before you even start.

yogurt
As with protein bars, you need to read labels carefully. Certain brands may be surprisingly high in sugar and fat, neither of which are good for your workout. And if you can’t easily digest dairy products, stopping at the gym can make things worse.

sorbet
These sound great in theory, both for hydration and nutrition. But in practice, they may be less than ideal. Some contain sugar that will only give you a short burst of energy before the dreaded “crash.” And depending on what’s in them, a smoothie can have up to 800 calories.

linseed
This seed has a variety of potential health benefits – some people use it to try to relieve constipation or lower cholesterol levels. But it’s high in fiber and fatty acids, which isn’t what you want before a workout. So be careful when you add it to your diet.

fast food shop
It may be tempting, but on your way to the gym, skip the car fast food. Chances are, you’ll feel uncomfortably full and the fat and sugar in most fast food items will keep you from getting the most out of your workout.

Energy drinks
Like smoothies, these may seem like a natural pre-workout boost, but they have a lot to do with getting you jittery and raising your heart rate and blood pressure. It’s best to stay away from energy drinks until after your workout.

soda water (loanword)
This allows you to get your “daily double” of sugar and caffeine. You’ll get rapidly disappearing energy and lots of calories, along with all the problems caffeine can cause. It won’t give you any nutritional value, and it’s not a good choice for hydration.

Don’t go hungry.
While many things aren’t great for a pre-workout snack, skipping meals can be just as bad, even if you’re trying to lose weight. Your body needs fuel to keep you strong, but it needs to get the right fuel at the right time.

What do you eat?
Experts say the best way to do this is with a snack that consists of a combination of carbohydrates (to give you fuel) and protein (to get your body ready to build and repair muscle). Some ideas include a banana and some peanut butter with crackers, a handful of nuts and raisins, or a hard-boiled egg.

When do you eat?
It’s not a good idea to eat right before your event, even if it’s the right choice of pre-workout meal or snack. Your digestive system will be competing with the rest of your body for blood and oxygen, which is important for building and repairing muscle. Everyone is different, but for most people, a 1 to 3 hour buffer is all that’s needed.