Surprising Foods that Slow Down Your Workout

8 Mar

My sister and I were having a conversation about foods not to eat before you workout and it reminded me that I posted this information up early last year so I thought I would bring it forward to remind you of this important information and to also allow my new readers to learn about what foods you shouldn’t be eating before your workout!!!

Green Bananas
While bananas are a great pre-workout snack, make sure you grab a ripe one! Unripe fruit isn’t a good idea before you work out, as it could cause uncomfortable gas and bloating. Choose a banana that’s completely free of any green at the stem. Brown spots on the skin indicate it’s in the ripe stage. At this stage the sugar content will be absorbed easily, otherwise, the unripe banana is in the starch stage and more difficult to digest.

High Sodium Foods (Roasted Nuts)
Even though nuts are a great snack (and can help with weight loss) most roasted nuts are also salted, and salty foods can disrupt the delicate fluid-balance required for optimal workouts.

Flavored Water
Even though most flavored waters are touted as great ‘fitness’ drinks, many are full of sugar, or worse, artificial sweeteners that could hinder your workout.

While low-fat dairy may be part of a healthy diet, consuming it before a workout could slow you down. Limit the use of dairy if you feel lethargic, acidic, or experience excessive burping.

Bean-based foods, such as hummus, are high in indigestible carbohydrates that may cause uncomfortable gas and bloating.

Gel Packs
Unless you are very athletic (engaging in over 90 minutes of cardiovascular training per day), chances are you don’t need those gel packs.  Taking in all that sugar will disrupt insulin levels and could lead you to a dietary-binge later on in the day.

While they are great for your body (and weight loss), flaxseeds are full of fiber, which could impede your workout efforts by causing gas and/or bloating.  You definitely want to limit the amount of fiber you take in 2 hours before and after exercising. In addition to flaxseeds, stay away from fiber supplements, bran, and high-fiber breads and opt for a mixture of protein and carbohydrates instead right before your workout.

Hard Boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are a great source of lean protein, but they don’t provide carbohydrates for energy. Plus, their protein stays in the stomach and takes a long time to digest, which could weigh you down at the gym.

Thai or Mexican food
Spicy foods may help you burn up more calories overall, but they won’t help you burn more during your workout if you eat them right beforehand. Even if they are ‘healthy’ dishes, spicy leftovers (like last night’s Mexican or Thai food) can cause heartburn if they backwash into the esophagus.

Stopped by Starbucks on your way to the gym? Leave the muffins, croissants, and scones behind for a better sweat session.  They have too much butter, oil, or shortening to leave the stomach quickly.  Oh and by the way…this food is on my personal list of foods to NEVER EAT!

Protein Bars
Don’t be fooled.  Many protein bars on the market are no better for you than a candy bar! If your bar has more than 200 calories and too little protein, it could be weighing down your workout.  If your bar has less than 10g of protein, it could cause a drop in your blood sugar, leading you to feel more tired during your workout. To stay energized, look for a bar (that’s under 200 cals) with a protein to sugar ratio of 1:1.

Coffee Drinks
Need an afternoon pick me up? Skip the whipped coffee drink if its within a few hours of your workout time.  While caffeine can improve your workout, the excess sugar and calories won’t.  They pack on the calories, but they won’t keep you full. And many [coffee drinks] can contain the equivalent of 20 packs of sugar.

Energy Drinks
Most energy drinks are carbonated and full of sugar (or artificial sweeteners), which can cause gas, bloating, and fatigue.  Not only are they not very good for you, they aren’t very good at keeping you hydrated, which is key for a great workout. Caffeine can help if you need a pre-workout boost, but think high-antioxidant green tea or black tea or even a nonfat latte (you get some protein in) which can provide an energy boost. Pair it with the right protein bar for the perfect balance.

Store-Bought Smoothies
While the right smoothie can be a great pre-workout snack or meal, if you buy one on the go, chances are you may get weighed down by extra sugar and fat. Blending your own fruit smoothie (use real fruit, not juice) with a scoop of protein powder is your best option.

Fruit Juice
Gulping a glass of OJ might seem like a good idea before your morning sweat session, but you’ll question your decision halfway through spin class, when climbing that hill seems impossible. What gives? You are better off eating the orange instead.   Juice (even 100-percent fresh-squeezed) has a lot of sugar, and no fiber. While it still offers some vitamins, it will go right through your system, causing a blood sugar crash later.

Protein Shakes
Bodybuilders swear by them, so they must be good for workouts, right? Wrong! Not all, but most pre-made protein shakes contain a lot of processed ingredients, excess sugar (or sweeteners), and dairy products that can cause bloating, gas, and fatigue.

Trail Mix
While it seems like the perfect portable pre-workout snack, trail mix can take a long time to digest and can be gassy for certain people.

Steer clear of foods high in fat (even the good kind of monounsaturated fat) like avocados just before exercise.  Fats are very important and should be consumed at other intervals in the day, just try to limit your fat intake two hours before and after exercise.  Foods with a lot of fat or fiber can be very difficult and slow to digest, and they remain in the stomach a long time. They also pull blood into the stomach to aid in digestion, which can cause cramping and discomfort.

Excerpt taken from SHAPE magazine

Until next time,

Have a fit and fabulous day!


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