When it comes to exercise, nearly everyone wants to do it comfortably and with energy blasting through their veins. To fuel your workouts, it is natural to only go for the healthy stuff. With that said, there are several healthy and nutritious foods that can actually prevent you from having a good workout. Find out what they are below.
Beans are a fantastic source of protein and fibre — both of which can keep you full for longer. However, the high fibre content in beans, which also comprises an indigestible carbohydrate called raffinose, can cause considerable digestive distress while you are working out. It is best to stay away from high-fibre foods right before a workout to avoid bloating and gas. After all, you wouldn’t want to be emitting wind or strange noises halfway through your crunches!
Even if you were to sneak in some hummus as a snack, stick to just two tablespoons and wait at least 30 minutes before you start your workout.
Avocados are loaded with healthy fat, which is wonderful for your waistline and heart. Although it may seem harmless to have a few slices of avocado toast, doing it before your workout can cause some discomfort while you’re breaking a sweat. Fatty foods like avocado (and even nut butter) can take a long time to digest and stay in the stomach for a while. More energy and blood will be directed to the stomach to support digestion, and this can lead to cramping and discomfort.
If high-fat foods are your best snacking option, it is best to consume them in small portions. Just a spoonful of natural peanut butter or guacamole with carrot sticks will keep tummy issues at bay during your workouts.
Smoothies can be great for hydration and recovery after your workouts but having them before that might adversely affect your sweat session. Even if your smoothie mainly consists of fresh fruits, the amount of cumulative sugar in your beverage can cause a rapid blood sugar spike and lead to an energy crash mid-exercise. And similar to what we said about beans, the fibre in your smoothie might stimulate bowel movement or cause stomach discomfort. Taking frequent bathroom breaks during your workout is only going to make it unproductive, so make sure you save your smoothie as a post-workout beverage instead.
Sports and Carbonated Drinks
Although you know to generally avoid candy, especially before a workout, what you may not realise is that the same sugars found in those sweet snacks are also present in many sports drinks. Added sugars like Isomalt, xylitol, and sorbitol are commonly found in carbonated beverages, energy drinks, electrolyte tablets, and even sports bars. These sugars are not able to be fully absorbed by the gut and hence, can lead to a bunch of digestive conditions like diarrhoea, cramping, and bloating.
While sports drinks can really come in handy for those doing marathon runs or intense sports, it might not even be necessary for a one-hour workout at the gym. Plain water is still your best option. If you really need an energy boost for the day, you can opt for scrambled egg whites on toast at least an hour before your workout.
It also goes without saying that carbonated drinks are a no-no before workouts. You don’t want to feel extremely bloated while you are trying to crank out a set of burpees!
Coffee is a superb beverage to perk you up in the day but it might cause you to run to the bathroom mid-exercise if you drink it too close to your workout time. Coffee (and even tea) has a diuretic effect, which stimulates your bladder and bowels. While coffee is said to improve your endurance and training intensity, you should wait 30 to 60 minutes post-coffee before starting on your run or workout.
Milk and plain yoghurt are typically healthy for your gut and can provide you with a balanced mix of protein, carbohydrates and fat. However, the lactose found in milk and dairy products can be hard to digest, even if you do not suffer from lactose intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome. This can lead to a lot of gas and bloating (and sometimes diarrhoea), which are not ideal conditions for any workout. Soy or almond milk are much safer options if you do not want to risk discomfort and toilet breaks during your workouts.
Commonly used in cereals or a warm bowl of oatmeal, flaxseeds are so rich in nutrients and omega-3 fats. Another thing they’re loaded with? Good ol’ fibre.
Flaxseeds work great at regulating your GI tract, making this nutritious food a natural laxative. A small dose of flaxseeds can help you to clear your digestive tract but an excess of it, especially with little water, may lead to mild bouts of diarrhoea and constipation. The most you should consume before exercising is two tablespoons.