The 10 Worst Pre-Workout Snacks
We all want to get the most out of the time we spend exercising. And to do that, we need to make sure what we eat is on point. Diet is a crucial part of how we look and perform in the gym. Knowing what to eat will have a dramatic impact on the gains you make.
BUT - what about the foods you should NOT eat before you work out? Just because some foods are “healthy” doesn’t mean they should be eating before you train.
Well today - we’re covering the absolute 10 worst pre workout snacks that will kill your performance when you exercise.
Avoid eating these foods directly before you work out at all costs if you don’t want your performance to suffer!
Pre-Workout Nutrition 101
Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient that provides energy to the body by breaking down into glucose, which is used in various ways.
Carbs can be found in many foods including fruits and vegetables, rice, potato bread and beans. They're also often included in dairy products like milk or yogurt.
There are two main types of carbs: simple and complex. Simple carbs include refined sugars, while complex ones contain easy-to-digest fibre that helps keep you fuller for longer periods of time.
Researchers have studied the importance of carbohydrate intake before exercise for many decades. Many studies have shown that athletes perform better when they consume carbohydrates than when they don't eat any carbohydrates before exercise.
Athletes must replenish their muscle glycogen levels before training or competition, because exhaustion of this source of energy during exercise leads to decreased performance.
Protein consumed before a workout can boost athletic performance, muscle recovery and mass, furthermore, it helps keep you full so that mid-workout hunger pangs are less likely.
It's important to eat protein regularly throughout the day, as well as making sure you eat enough protein to fuel muscle recovery.
A low-fat, nutritious snack will give you energy while you're working out.
Fat provides energy more slowly than carbs, but its energy is more efficient. It therefore makes a better source of fuel for longer, less intense exercise sessions.
Macronutrients (or macros) is the "fancy" word for protein, carbs and fat.
Protein provides 4 calories per gram, carbohydrates provide 4 calories and fat gives 9 calories.
Now you know what kinds of macronutrients you need you can read this article (link to the best pre workout snacks to fuel your gym sessions) and make sure to avoid the below, as these are the worst pre-workout snacks we can think of.
10 Worst Pre-Workout Food, Snacks & Drinks
Flaxseeds are a wonderful food, full of fibre and great for your health. However, if you eat them before working out, they may cause gas or bloating because of their high fibre content.
Beans may be magical, but eating too many of them before working out can leave you feeling bloated and slow. Beans are a fiber-rich food, containing 16 grams of fiber per cup, almost half the recommended daily intake. However, they also contain carbohydrates called raffinose that your body cannot digest.
Some people may experience gas or bloating when consuming cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables. These foods are healthy for most people but contain a sulphur-containing compound that can cause digestive problems in certain individuals. Cruciferous vegetables contain large amounts of raffinose, which can cause flatulence.
If you’re lactose intolerant or sensitive to certain foods, avoid eating them before working out. Lactose-intolerant athletes should steer clear of heavy dairy products like milk and soft cheeses because they could lead to intestinal cramping.
Hard cheeses, yogurt, kefir and lactose-free milk are delicious options for those who need to limit the amount of lactose they consume.
Fried, Fatty and Fast Food
When going to the gym, avoid eating greasy fried foods like burgers, fries and pizza because they have saturated fats that stay in your digestive system longer, making them harder to digest. These types of food can lead to bloating and cramping as well as diarrhea.
Fizzy drinks, beer, and sodas cause the stomach to expand with gas producing discomfort, indigestion and flatulence. We're sure no one wants this trio during their fitness class!
Alcoholic beverages, however tempting they may be in the midst of a heavy workout session, should not count toward your daily water intake. Not only do alcoholic drinks have diuretic properties, but they are dehydrating, making it even harder to achieve body-composition goals.
100% Fruit Juice
While juice contains carbohydrates and fluids (important pre-workout requirements), drinking a glass immediately before exercising may not be the best approach.
Fructose, a sugar found in fruit juice that does not digest as quickly as other sugars and could cause stomach cramps for those with irritable bowel syndrome or fructose sensitivities.
Orange juice is a great food for active people because it provides essential vitamins and minerals needed for recovery, but you should drink orange juice only as part of a meal or smoothie an hour before exercise.
Pastries, doughnuts and other desserts are out of the question when you’re training. These foods tend to be high in fats and nobody wants that kind of fuel sitting around their abs before a session!
You may think that you can handle spicy food while working out, but the fact is that hot and spicy foods affect your digestive system and are likely to cause a burning sensation in the stomach, which doesn't help during exercise. Before working out, avoid spicy foods for up to 24 hours (and eat bland food) to give your gut a rest.
How to Nail Your Pre-Workout Nutrition
If you have at least 1–2 hours before your workout, we'd recommend a pre-workout snack. Here are some more satisfying options to try:
If you have a protein shake before working out, it can be just as effective at helping you to build muscle and lose weight. Just make sure that the shake is packed with all of the nutrients that your body needs for a good workout!
If you're an early riser who prefers to work out first thing in the morning, a bowl of porridge is the perfect pre-workout meal. If you don't have much time to prepare breakfast, grab a box of instant oatmeal; add water and in seconds it's ready!
Because fruit smoothies contain the natural sugars your body needs to fuel high-intensity workouts, they make great pre-workout snacks. However, you should drink a smoothie at least two hours prior to beginning any exercise session in order to maximise their performance benefits.
Greek yogurt is an excellent pre-workout snack because its high protein content gives your muscles the fuel they need for peak performance. In addition, Greek yogurt's easily digestible carbs keep you energised throughout your workout.
Eat a bowl of Greek yogurt one hour before your workout and add real fruit or natural sweeteners like honey to it.
Fitness buffs often eat fruit before working out because it contains vitamins and nutrients that help muscles function. Plus, natural sugars will be burned for energy during exercise instead of fat reserves, which helps burn more calories in less time.
If you want to feel your best during a workout, eat a banana or another fruit an hour before hitting the gym.
Overnight oats with strawberries and walnuts
Overnight oats are a convenient and healthy way to enjoy the benefits of slow-digesting carbs. Just mix old fashioned or steel cut oats with low fat milk, sliced strawberries and walnuts then eat it all chilled for breakfast!
Trail mixes usually contain nuts, dried fruits, and seeds all of which are excellent sources of protein, fibre, vitamins or minerals.
The combination of these nutrients makes trail mix an ideal food for athletes who need sustained energy during long workouts.
Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter
A rice cake spread with peanut butter is a great combination of carbohydrates, protein and fat to eat before working out.
Rice cakes offer a low-calorie, nutrient-rich snack for physical endurance. And peanut butter provides long-lasting fuel to keep you going at the gym.
Depending on how much time you have before your workout starts, should determine what your meal includes. Take a look at some of our suggestions:
If your workout starts within 2–3 hours or more go for a pre-workout meal.
- sandwich on whole-grain bread
- scrambled egg and whole-grain toast
- chicken, rice and vegetables
If your workout starts within 2 hours:
- protein smoothie including protein powder, milk or substitute and fruit
- porridge topped with fruits such as banana
- peanut butter on whole-grain bread
If your workout starts within an hour or less:
- Fruit with Greek yogurt
- Protein bar
- a piece of fruit or dried fruit
There is no specific formula for fueling the body during exercise. What works best will likely take some trial and error, as individual needs vary.