The close relationship between fitness and nutrition is something we have looked at before in some of our blog posts. But what about the kinds of things you should eat before a workout? If you’re looking for something to eat before training, there are some foods that are best avoided. We’ve done some in-depth research for you to find out what not to drink or eat before training.
What not to eat and drink before a training – food and drink that’s best avoided
Sweets and lots of sugar
If you eat sweets – or lots of sugar generally – before a training session, you won’t be helping yourself or your performance. Although eating sweets, which contain high levels of sugar, initially causes a significant increase in blood sugar levels, this is followed shortly after by a rapid drop in blood sugar. Not only does this usually result in a drop in performance, it also causes tiredness and headaches. Not exactly ideal for a tough workout.
Pulses include foods such as beans and lentils, for example, and are a good source of fiber – which is great for athletes. However, it is best not to eat them just before a training session, since they can cause digestive problems – which can be very unpleasant when doing sport.
Fat is also part of a healthy diet, just like protein and carbohydrates. But fat takes a very long time to digest, so it stays in the stomach for a long time. It is therefore best to avoid fatty foods before exercise.
It’s the same for carbonated drinks. It is important to drink, and many people find it difficult to drink still water. Even so, the best thing to drink before a training session is still water. The carbonic acid in carbonated drinks can result in bloating, which is unpleasant and can also lead to stomach ache and even cause a stitch, so it’s best to drink still water before a workout.
Big meals with lots of carbohydrates
The digestive system needs a very good blood supply to digest a meal like this, which in turn means less blood for your muscles. Since both endurance training and strength training place high demands on your muscles – making it vital that there is a good supply of blood to your muscles – eating a large meal with lots of carbohydrates before a training session is anything but a good idea.
Since there are lots of people who unfortunately cannot tolerate the lactose in dairy products, it is best to avoid dairy products – such as a glass of milk or pot of yogurt – before exercise. Nevertheless, milk is important, as it contains lots of calcium which is good for our bones. Dairy products should therefore be part of our nutritional plan – we just shouldn’t eat or drink them before training.
Although apples are healthy and are always a good idea as a snack to keep hunger at bay, it’s not a good idea to eat them before a workout. Apples are quite acidic, which can have a negative effect if you do any physical activity after eating them. Instead of eating an apple just before a workout, try eating a banana instead.
Eating spicy food
Spicy food stimulates the digestive system, which is all well and good, but it can also cause heartburn and digestive problems. It’s therefore best to avoid spicy food before exercise.
Sports drinks or isotonic drinks
Commercially produced sports drinks usually contain lots of sugar, which means it is not ideal to drink them immediately before a training session. Your body only needs the minerals in isotonic drinks if you have been exercising for longer than 60 minutes. Otherwise, the best thing to drink before training is simply still water, as mentioned above.
Although fiber is essential for a balanced diet, eating high-fiber foods before a workout is anything but a good idea. Fiber that is found in foods such as lentils, salad and broccoli is hard to digest and can also cause a bloated stomach and even stomach ache. Not so nice when you’re doing sport. It is therefore best avoided before exercise.
The same is true for whole-wheat products as for fiber. While eating whole-wheat products containing good carbohydrates is a great idea any other time, it is better to eat white pasta and white bread just before any physical exertion. Eaten before a training session, these foods quickly provide the energy needed for the exercise you are about to do.
The right time to eat
Although you shouldn’t eat the foods listed here before a workout, you should definitely eat something. However, how long before a training session you should eat depends on how well you tolerate it. Whereas some people are able to eat just an hour before training without any problems, others need to leave two to three hours between a meal and a training session. The best thing is to experiment for yourself. Just make sure you avoid the no-gos above. Depending how sensitive your stomach is, you may even be able to eat some of these foods a few hours before a workout. The best thing to do is try them out for yourself, one at a time.
Fitness and nutrition are directly linked. With the right foods to sustain you, you will then be able to hit the ground running with plenty of energy for your training session. Look after your diet and you’ll reach your goals 🙂