Whether it’s running, yoga or gym work, everyone needs a bit of a pre-workout boost, especially since most of us work out right after work, and with an empty stomach.
What you eat in the pre-workout phase matter as much as what you eat after. These are six types of foods that we recommend that you stay away from before your workout.
1. Green, Leafy Vegetables
It’s alright if you had them for lunch, and then go for a workout after 5pm. But if you’ve eaten a salad filled with green, leafy vegetables, or anything fibrous in a three-hour lead-up into a workout, then you might be in for some trouble.
High fibre vegetables almost guarantee some form of gas-related bloating, and that’s a struggle you definitely won’t want when you’re hitting the gym.
If you’re hungry just before a workout, consider a handful of granola or a few pieces your favourite fruit.
2. Curries or Sambal-based dishes
It’s easy to laugh at this, but some people just can’t resist spicy food! Spicy foods will almost guarantee a heartburn-inducing workout, especially with all the extra motion you’re putting it through. Couple that with your digestive juices, and you’ll be facing plenty of pain.
Now, it’s important to note that even if you had that spicy meal five hours ago, it will still be in your system. Spicy food takes a longer time to digest, so don’t take the risk if you know that you’re having a workout later!
3. Energy Gel
This might come as a surprise to you, but energy gels are horrid pre-workout food. Snazzy marketing aside, energy gels are chockfull of basic sugars. It hits your system very quickly and hypes your body up, but the subsequent crash will hit you hard in the middle of your workout. These packs of energy are best used during your long runs, so bring them along and consume them only when you feel like your body is giving up on you.
4. Seeds and Nuts
Raw seeds or roasted nuts are filled with energy, and generally great if you need to fix your hunger in a pinch. However, grabbing a handful of your favourite crunchies pre-run might not be a good idea.
Raw seeds have a higher fat content that can cause bloating if taking in larger quantities. On the other hand, roasted nuts have a higher salt content, and would mess up your fluid balance, which is vital for sustaining workouts. If you absolutely need to eat these items, we recommend having a smaller quantity than you’d usually take.
5. Sports Drinks
It doesn’t matter if your favourite athlete is drinking this or not, you should never pop a bottle of sports drink before your workout. Most sports drinks don’t contain any nutrition, but are loaded with way too much sugar. If you take this before your workout, you might get a sugar crash when you need energy the most.
Instead of having the sport drink before the workout, sip on it after an intense session. If you’re looking for a good pre-workout drink, then try a low-sodium tomato juice. Tomatoes are full of potassium and vitamin C, so you’re getting a nice energy and immunity boost!
6. Protein Bars
Don’t believe the hype! Unless you’re eating whole foods like steak or salmon, that protein bar is going to hit you with way more calories than you expect. Protein bars are fattening, but the fact that they’re laden with sugar and fat also mean that extra effort is needed during digestion. That’s going to negatively affect your workout, even if the protein is good for your body.
Instead of wasting your workout on a protein bar, have a scoop of low sugar protein shake as a post-workout pickup!