You know when your body's running at its best. You feel energized, powerful, and utterly invincible in the gym. Much of that can be attributed to your nutrition—specifically, the foods you eat before your workout.
If you don't want to slog through your workout suffering from bouts of nausea, fits of stomach cramps, or waves of acid reflux, heed the advice of Jim White, RD, ACSM HFS, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesman, owner and president of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios. White has highlighted the foods that have no place in your pre-workout plan, so there won't be anything holding you back in the gym, in the pool, or on the track.
"Don't change your pre-workout if it's already working for you!" White says. "All in all, you don't want to try anything your body isn't used to," he adds. You open the opportunity for your body to run through all sorts of unpleasant side-effects: gas, nausea, indigestion, heartburn, and some more graphic ones you can use your imagination with. Stick to what you know, and use trial and error.
"Too many fibrous vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower are hard to break down," White says. The result is a whole lot of stomach grumbling, discomfort, and gastrointestinal distress. "Before a workout, go light on anything plant-based," White adds. Go for a fruit salad with yogurt instead.
Skip the burger at lunch if you plan on working out in the evening, even if you opt for a whole wheat bun and a lean beef. "Hamburgers contain about 10-30 grams of fat per serving," White says, "and that's not including all the other toppings." Its never a great idea to eat a huge high-calorie meal before working out, but you won't be able to digest this in time to pick up the weights or run, he adds.
Most fruit can be an excellent pre-workout snack because of the high fiber content and good-quality carbs. Juice on the other hand is mostly sugar. "Stay away from this spike of energy," White warns. "You'll regret the crash you experience mid-workout."
Again: "Skip the high-fiber foods," White says. When you speed digestion and get your gears grinding during exercise major gastro distress is almost always an outcome. "Low-fiber whole grains are more suitable such as a whole wheat bread, pasta, couscous, or a small portion of brown rice.
Not that we ever recommended you eat fried food and greasy meats (think jerky and bacon), but these eats will create havoc on your digestion system if you eat them too close to your workout. "Aside from feeling uncomfortably full, the excessively high oil and fat combination increases your chances of acid reflux," White says. If you already suffer from heartburn, fatty food can make it even worse by relaxing the valve that separates your stomach and throat.