If you're looking to have a killer workout, you'll need to be sure your pre-workout snack is easy on the stomach and energizing, so you'll have enough stamina to last through that last round of burpees or jump squats.
And, what's more, eating the wrong foods before working out can also lead to stomach cramps and pain, which can cause you to cut your workout short, thereby losing those potential endorphin and muscle-building benefits.
Of course, every body differs, so while dairy, for instance, might be tolerable for one person (like having a Greek yogurt or pre-workout smoothie before a session), it can lead to tummy troubles and uncomfortable bowel movements in another. So, you'll need to go by how your body responds to different foods, in order to choose your pre-workout meals wisely.
Still, personal trainer and owner of Kick@55 Fitness in Chicago, Rebecca Gahan, C.P.T., shares her tips for getting a great workout by picking the right foods before and avoiding those that can bring you down.
Beans are the magical fruit, as they're packed with fiber and protein to keep you full, but they can also make you gassy. (Not so great when you're trying to exercise.)
"They will cause inflammation and bloating which is not ideal prior to jumping, running and lifting," says Gahan. Sure, if it's the morning you might not wake up craving beans for breakfast (though they are delicious with quinoa or eggs), but if you have an evening or afternoon class, you'll need to be more mindful as to what you're eating before.
Ditching beans in your salad for nuts or chicken instead if a good solution.
Go still over sparkling, here. That carbonation can make you burp and can lead to an upset stomach during your workout.
"The carbonation and sugar can cause diarrhea and bloating," says Gahan, which is not ideal for when you're looking to stick with your run or do lots of jumps. And, that bathroom break will just get in the way of your performance, wasting minutes and also cooling your body off, where you might need to get warmed up again.
Can't do basic water? Here are a few easier ways to add flavor to your water without needing those bubbles.
Sugar & Simple Carbs
Yes, you'll want to get carbs in before a workout for immediate energy. But, you'll want complex carbs, one that are good for you and are low in sugar. Sugar will only cause your body to crash shortly after consumption, which could be mid-workout.
"Avoid simple carbohydrates that are primarily sugar. based," says Gahan. "Although you need some sugar to help provide you with energy, if the carbohydrate is all sugar, like candy, your sugar levels rise and then fall. Mid-workout you will experience this sugar crash," she explains.
A better plan? Natural sugar, as found in fruit, like a banana, with some protein. Try this: A peanut butter banana roll up.
You'll be fired up as is if you're looking forward to crushing it in the gym, so you don't need the extra heat. (And, if you're not excited, find a new workout that is fun and convenient for you.)
Ditch the hot sauce and other hot, spicy foods, says Gahan. "They can cause heartburn during workout," she says. And, if your heart does hurt, it'll be impossible to really push yourself to your real potential, and you'll probably need to stop the workout and rest.
High Fiber Foods
Greens are good for you, but foods that are too high in fiber, like cruciferous veggies or bran, can be tough on the stomach. You'll want some fiber, to stay full, as found in a complex carbohydrate before a workout. Yet, those foods that are super high in fiber should be avoided until after you've showered and are ready for a snack to refuel and repair damaged muscles.
Instead, try other greens, like a little avocado or some kiwi in cottage cheese.