by Matt Weik
A pre-workout meal that is timed right can help fuel you during your workouts and provide you with enough sustained energy to push your body to the limit in the gym. However, consuming the wrong foods during your pre-workout meal can cause you to throw in the towel early and regret the decision to hit the gym.
In this article, we will look at some foods to avoid in your pre-workout meal and why it isn’t a good idea to consume them if you’re planning on crushing a training session.
I mean, if I really must explain this one to you, it might be time to check into an AA meeting in your area. If you think it’s a good idea to consume alcohol as part of your pre-workout meal, you may want to rethink that strategy. Combining alcohol with heavy lifts spells disaster. Not only could you severely hurt yourself or others in the gym, but alcohol has a dehydrating effect, which isn’t ideal when pushing your body and needing to be properly hydrated to perform optimally. Even the slightest decrease in hydration levels can drastically diminish your workout performance and results.
While soda is probably the most overly consumed beverage (both regular and diet), let’s just say stay away from anything carbonated with your pre-workout meal. No soda, beer (which also ties into #1), sparkling water, etc. While these beverages may be your preferred choice with a meal, having them with your pre-workout meal can cause indigestion, stomach discomfort, and even gas during your training session.
3. Spicy Food
You may be a fan of spicy food — the hotter, the better. Well, that’s fantastic… just not around your training sessions. Skip the spicy food as your pre-workout meal and stick with something that is easy on the stomach and easy to digest. If you’ve ever experienced indigestion or heartburn following a spicy meal, you can only imagine how disastrous that would be during a workout. In fact, you may want to lay off the spicy foods for as much as 12-24 hours before a workout, as spicy food can take its toll on the digestive system. When going deep into a squat, the last thing you need is the “squirts.” When eating super spicy foods that disturb the digestive system, you should never trust a fart.
4. Fried Food
One food that ties in with what was mentioned in #3 is wings. Who doesn’t love wing? However, wings or any fried food should not be a part of your pre-workout meal. Fried foods can lead to severe bloating and diarrhea (two things you don’t want when training). Because the food is fried, you already know that the fat content is high. Due to this, it’s going to take your digestive system longer to break down the food and turn it into usable energy. Therefore, your pre-workout meal that includes fried food won’t even be absorbed by the body and able to be used as fuel during your workout. Not to mention, fried food isn’t part of a healthy nutrition plan, to begin with.
5. Dairy Products
Dairy and the fats mentioned in #4 go hand-in-hand. Due to the slow digestion rate of dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.), whatever you consume in your pre-workout meal may not be digested and absorbed by the body before your training session. This will limit your energy levels and could hinder your overall workout performance. In addition, consuming dairy products before a workout can cause you to feel sluggish, lead to stomach/intestinal cramping and discomfort, and increase the risk of flatulence and nausea during your training session.
6. Cruciferous Vegetables
While cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are loaded with helpful micronutrients that we all need in our diet, having them in your pre-workout meal isn’t the best idea. Cruciferous vegetables are high in raffinose, which can cause some digestive issues that would not be conducive to training. This can cause stomach and digestive discomfort — not allowing you to feel your best in the gym. Add in the fact that cruciferous vegetables are also high in sulfur compounds, and you may not only feel terrible but could make everyone else feel sick due to the nasty gas you’ll let rip, causing everyone around you to start dry heaving.
Last on our list of foods and beverages to avoid in your pre-workout meal are beans. I’m going to take you back to your childhood where I’m sure you remember the good old, “Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot.” It doesn’t matter what type of bean you are considering, put them down and step away. Beans may be a healthy addition to a meal and supply a healthy amount of fiber, but that also means the potential for stomach discomfort thanks to the raffinose content. Add in the fact that beans can increase flatulence, and you may be tooting your way around the gym — not an ideal scenario.