Things You Should Never Eat or Drink Before Your Workout
SKIP BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT: CARBONATED DRINKS – Drinks like seltzers and sodas are infused with carbon dioxide, which creates carbonation. Those bubbles can make people feel gassy and full, or cause abdominal pain. Most of the carbonation escapes through your mouth, but some should still make it to your stomach, causing short-lived bloating and gas. It should pass within an hour.
Instead, twist open a bottle of plain water to hydrate. You really only need a sugar-containing sports drink if you’re exercising long enough to deplete your carbohydrate stores. If you’re exercising for 90 minutes or longer at moderately high intensity, you can reach for a sports drink: In those cases, your body can immediately use those simple carbs from sugar for energy.
SKIP BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT: FIBER-RICH FOODS – Yes, that black bean vegetable soup is a great choice for lunch—the fiber fills you up, so you’re not hungry an hour later. But while fiber is great for your gut, it can hinder your workout. High-fiber foods—like broccoli, high-fiber cereals, or lentils and other legumes—take longer to digest and draw blood to your digestive system.
With about 15 grams of fiber per cup, black beans can also lead to gastrointestinal distress while running, when there’s more jostling of your stomach. That can make you feel queasy and bloated, give you cramps, make you fart, and cause unwanted bathroom breaks.
SKIP BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT: LOW-CARB, HIGH-FIBER PROTEIN BARS – Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source. Your body converts carbs into sugars, which then get absorbed into your bloodstream, travel into the cells in your body, and can be used for energy. A lot of strength athletes think they don’t need carbohydrates, but they do. Our muscles, our brains, they function primarily on carbohydrates.
If you go low-carb, your body will break down muscle proteins for energy, which can prevent muscle growth. During anaerobic activity, carbohydrates are the only source of energy. Without carbohydrates, there will not be enough energy for a hard workout.
SKIP BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT: NUTS – Everyone thinks nuts are this super-food, but they’re mostly just fat. And fat, like fiber, travels more slowly through your body. That means more blood flow to your GI tract and liver when you are trying to digest fat-heavy foods. Nuts, cheese, and avocados contain protein, which is good, but their high fat content makes them pre-workout no-nos.
SKIP BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT: WHOLE GRAIN TOAST – Complex carbs—like those in whole grains, vegetables, and beans—won’t help you fulfill your potential during endurance training. Endurance athletes are going to be better off with simple carbohydrates, which your body can absorb more rapidly for immediate use. That’s one case where you might want to go with the plain white toast: It’s primarily made up of simple carbs and will supply your body with readily available energy.
SKIP BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT: SPICY STUFF – In some people, hot and spicy foods—say, dishes with jalapeño peppers or hot sauce—can trigger heartburn or acid reflux, caused by acids that escape your stomach and enter your esophagus. That leads to the uncomfortable burning sensation in your throat and sourness in your stomach, which can make your workout feel lousy. Especially on important days—like when you’re running a 5K or trying for a PR on bench—make sure you’re avoiding foods that don’t sit well with you.