While it’s important to fuel your body before you hit the gym, some pre-workout snacks can actually hinder your workout, making you feel tired, bloated, and even suffer from stomach cramps.
To help you make the most of your workout, we spoke with the fitness experts over at Barbend who revealed to me the five common foods to avoid eating the hour before a workout – and what to eat instead.
A spokesperson from Barbend said: “Before exercise, it’s important to fuel your body with the right foods in order to reap the benefits and power your work out. Many people don’t realise how the foods we eat directly before can affect our performance.
“Foods high in sugar alter your blood sugar levels, which could leave you feeling sluggish mid-workout. At the same time high-fat foods like avocado take longer to digest, meaning your body is working hard on that instead of providing power for your workout.
“If you plan to eat an hour before a workout, fuel your body with a combination of quality carbohydrates and a small amount of protein. An apple with peanut butter, or an unripe banana make great options. It’s also important to ensure, alongside your pre-workout snack that you’ve consumed a balanced meal two to three hours beforehand.”
To help bust the myths on pre-workout snacks, here are some of the common foods to avoid before you get your gym gear on.
Despite being a high in protein, eating eggs just before a workout isn’t the best option, as they don’t have enough carbs for balanced energy.
They may also make you feel heavier during your workout as the body digests them slowly. And, while raw eggs are famously consumed by bodybuilders as a quick way to consume more protein, they’re also a bad option before a workout, as they can cause stomach cramps and even diarrhoea.
While protein bars may seem like the perfect pre-workout snack, they could actually make you feel tired during a workout.
A lot of protein bars found on the shelves are packed with hidden calories, sugar, and artificial sweeteners – and don’t actually contain a ‘high’ amount of protein. Before you pick one up, analyse the protein content. If it contains less than 9 grams of protein, it’s not going to benefit you before a work-out.
Instead, look for options with natural ingredients, that won’t cause your blood sugar to drop shortly after.
While avocado is often hailed as a staple superfood, consuming it within three hours of a workout isn’t a great option, as its fat content is super high.
Foods that are high in fat can take over four hours for the body to fully digest, meaning if you’re tucking shortly before exercise, your body is still hard at work.
Because the food sits in your stomach for a longer period of time, it can also cause stomach pain and tiredness, as your body is using its energy to support digestion instead of fuelling your workout.
However, unsaturated fats aren’t a complete no-go, they just need to be consumed in moderation. For example, a small handful of almonds, or a tablespoon of peanut butter on wholegrain toast are great options before a big workout.
Smoothies are one of the most popular options for those trying to eat healthily, however just like protein bars, store-bought smoothies can have a lot of hidden sugar, that will cause your blood sugar levels to spike – and dramatically drop. This, again, is not ideal when you’re preparing for a workout.
Believe it or not, despite us trying to get one of our five a day, vegetables can play havoc with your stomach before exercise.
While your body needs fibre, try to stay clear of high-fibre veggies like broccoli and cauliflower before a workout. Instead, stick to those that go a little easier on your tummy like potatoes or asparagus.