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9 Foods You Should Never Eat Before a Workout

Avoid these at all costs!

These are the 9 foods you should never eat before a workout. As you will see below, Posternak explains the different reasons why you want to avoid consuming these before hitting the gym.

Max Posternak is the founder of Gravity Transformation, a website focused on giving tips and training guidance for people looking to improve their fitness and lose weight. His YouTube channel has over 4 million subscribers.

Incorporating the nine foods that may lead to gas, bloating, heartburn, and low energy during workouts is a common mistake made by many individuals. While everyone’s body reacts differently to various foods, certain pre-workout choices can significantly impact an individual’s performance, either positively or negatively.

Recognizing the right foods to consume before a workout can help optimize muscle building, fat burning, and overall athletic performance. Conversely, consuming the wrong foods can lead to feelings of sickness, sluggishness, weakness, and ultimately ruin one’s workout experience.

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9 Foods You Should Never Eat Before a Workout

1. Greasy High-Fat Food

One primary category of pre-workout foods to avoid is greasy, high-fat foods. Such foods include cheeseburgers, potato chips, and dishes loaded with dressings or mayonnaise, like potato salad. Even seemingly healthy high-fat foods, such as avocados, can cause digestive issues for many individuals. The digestion of high-fat meals takes a significant amount of time because fats slow down digestion and gastric emptying.

When an individual works out with a full stomach, it can result in feelings of sickness, discomfort, and fatigue. Consuming a filling, high-fat meal diverts a substantial amount of energy towards the digestive process, making it challenging to engage in physical activity effectively. Consequently, individuals are advised to avoid greasy foods before workouts and, instead, schedule such meals for other times of the day.

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2. Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables, known for their health benefits, are another group of foods that should be approached with caution before workouts. Vegetables, in general, are regarded as a healthy dietary choice, but cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, can lead to digestive discomfort.

broccoli

These vegetables are high in fibre and can be difficult to digest, particularly because they contain a sugar called raffinose. The undigested raffinose is fermented by gut bacteria, leading to the production of gas and bloating. During cardio-based workouts that involve repetitive movements like jogging or burpees, feeling bloated can be especially uncomfortable.

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3. Beans and Legumes

Similarly, beans and legumes, including products like hummus, are also high in complex sugars and fibre that are challenging for the body to digest. While fibre is beneficial for weight management and bowel movements, the fibre in beans remains largely intact as it travels to the large intestine, where it is digested by healthy bacteria. This fermentation process can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, gas, bloating, and flatulence. While fibre-rich foods are generally considered healthy, consuming them before a workout can be problematic and hinder exercise performance.

4. Acidic Foods

Acidic foods represent another category to be cautious of before workouts, as they can cause acid reflux and heartburn. Citrus juices like orange juice, limes, lemons, and grapefruits are acidic and can trigger heartburn for some individuals. Tomatoes and tomato-based products, such as marinara sauce, tomato soup, and ketchup, are also linked to heartburn.

Even chocolate, due to its combination of fat, caffeine, and cocoa, can contribute to heartburn during workouts. The acid reflux caused by these foods can be discomforting and negatively affect workout performance.

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5. Dairy

High-fat dairy, including whole milk and cheese, can also have adverse effects on the body when consumed before workouts. Dairy products, in general, are digested slowly, even if they are low in fat. Milk, in particular, undergoes a unique digestion process in the stomach, where gastric acid and enzymes break down the protein and digest the milk.

The proteins in milk unfold during this process, causing the milk to expand into a thick, partially solid substance. Consequently, consuming a large bowl of milk and cereal before a workout may lead to prolonged digestion and delayed feelings of fullness, impacting exercise performance. Moreover, approximately 68% of the global population is lactose intolerant, and for those individuals, consuming dairy before workouts can cause additional digestive issues.

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6. Alcohol

two bottles of beer cheersSource: Wil Stewart

Alcohol is an obvious pre-workout no-no, as it disrupts balance, coordination, and increases the pain threshold. Exercising after consuming alcohol can increase the risk of injury. Additionally, alcohol stimulates excessive acid production in the stomach and relaxes the valve of the stomach sphincter, leading to acid reflux during and after workouts. Alcohol also hinders fat loss and muscle gain, making it detrimental to workout goals.

7. Fried and Processed Foods

Fried and processed foods are not only unhealthy for general well-being but also contribute to digestive discomfort and heartburn during workouts. Fried foods are tough on the stomach and take longer to digest, leading to feelings of heaviness and tiredness. Processed ingredients found in many foods can have similar effects, causing lethargy and heartburn. Thus, avoiding fried and processed foods before workouts is essential for optimizing performance.

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8. Raw Eggs

Contrary to a longstanding myth popularized by Hollywood movies, consuming raw eggs before a workout is not recommended. Raw eggs are believed to provide more muscle-building benefits than cooked eggs, but this is a misconception. Cooked eggs are more easily absorbed by the body, with around 90% of their protein being absorbed.

In contrast, raw eggs are absorbed at a rate of about 50% and may cause digestion issues or pose a risk of food poisoning due to the presence of salmonella. Therefore, the potential benefits of raw eggs are outweighed by the health risks and reduced protein absorption.

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9. Pastries and Dessert Foods

Finally, pastries, desserts, and foods high in refined sugar are best avoided before workouts. These sugary foods cause a rapid increase in blood glucose levels, providing a temporary energy boost that does not last long. Shortly after consumption, individuals may experience a crash in energy levels, feeling lethargic and ready for a nap. To sustain energy throughout a workout, it is advisable to opt for healthier pre-workout carbohydrate options that provide consistent energy without negatively affecting one’s waistline.

In conclusion, understanding the impact of pre-workout foods on the body is crucial for optimizing exercise performance. While individual reactions may vary, avoiding or limiting certain foods before workouts can help prevent gas, bloating, heartburn, and low energy levels during physical activity.

By making mindful and informed choices about pre-workout nutrition, individuals can enhance their workout experience and achieve their fitness goals more effectively.

To understand a little bit better why these are the 9 foods you should never eat before a workout, watch the video below.

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