Pre-Workout Nutrition Mistakes to Avoid

July 09, 2019

Pre-Workout Nutrition

It’s an age-old question: should I eat before my workout? Everyone seems to have an opinion on what and when to eat before working out. And the truth is that it varies from person to person. However, properly fueling before a workout is incredibly important for building muscle and staying energized.

When Do You Work Out?

When you work out helps determine when and what to eat. If you exercise first thing in the morning, you probably only need to drink some water or a sports drink. If you work out in the evenings, then you can time it with your lunch. Since a meal needs 3 – 4 hours to digest, you can work out after that time and be properly fueled. However, you may need an extra snack if you work out 5 or more hours later.

Even though pre-workout nutrition is so personal, there are some general guidelines to follow so you don’t have a terrible workout. Here are three pre-workout nutrition mistakes to avoid.

1. Overeating
It may be tempting to fill up on carbs before you hit the gym, but too much food in your belly can cause problems. Avoid eating too many carbs and make sure you have protein as well. It’s also important to give your body time to digest, so give yourself at least an hour between eating and working out.

2. Too Much Fiber
Fiber is incredibly important for your gut health and you should definitely eat plenty of it. However, too much fiber before a workout can cause bloating, gas, nausea, and even diarrhea. If you have a long, hard work out ahead of you, skip the high-fiber foods.

3. Getting Hungry
Going into your workout on an empty stomach isn’t a good idea. If you’re hungry before you even begin, then chances are you won’t have the energy you need to sustain you. Plus, this can easily lead to overeating after your workout, which can quickly lead to weight gain. When in doubt, eat something small, like half a banana, to help you get through.

What to Eat Before a Workout

Now that we know what mistakes to avoid, let’s focus on the foods you should eat before a workout. Here are five foods that will keep you full and give you energy throughout any workout session.

1. Oats
Oatmeal is a great option for breakfast. Avoid instant oatmeal, which is full of sugar, and opt for slow oats like steel cut or rolled. These complex carbs will give you plenty of energy without spiking your blood sugar, avoiding that awful crash midway through your workout. Just make sure you have time to digest, since it is full of fiber!

2. Whole Grain Bread
Eating a sandwich or toast before a workout is simple and effective. Grab some peanut butter and jelly and you should be good to go for the long haul. Peanut butter provides a good source of both fat and protein and the carbs from the bread will give you energy and the right balance of nutrients to help you stay full.

3. Trail Mix
Trail mix is great because you can keep it with you anywhere. Go for the kind that has dried fruit and nuts, with as little added sugar as possible. Dried fruit has a ton of natural sugar on its own and it will keep you energized. Nuts are both a good source of fat and protein, so they will help you feel full too! Remember to give yourself time to digest since fruit is a high source of fiber.

4. Bananas
There’s a reason that bananas are always handed out at races! Bananas are the perfect snack before a workout because they are full of good carbs and potassium. You’ll have energy and the extra potassium will help you feel better since you lose a lot of potassium when you sweat. If you need a little extra oomph, try adding peanut or almond butter to get some protein in too!

5. Sports Drinks
A good, low sugar sports drink can give you extra hydration and energy for a workout. You can buy powdered versions so all you have to do is add in water, making them a perfect, on the go snack. Many sports drinks also include caffeine which helps you burn extra calories while giving you the energy to work out. However, many sports drinks contain too much sugar and are super unhealthy - opt for our Vegan BCAAs or Vegan Pre Workout to power through the toughest workouts. 

If you have a difficult workout planned, make sure you are fueled. Choose a snack from the list above and always give yourself time to digest. Properly fueling yourself can make the difference between an okay workout and an amazing exercise experience.

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