If you’re new to the weight loss game, you might be asking yourself what you can and cannot eat at different points during the day — and gym time is no exception. While it’s obvious you shouldn’t eat a heavy meal like steak and potatoes before you hit the weights, what about other stuff, like yogurt or a protein bar?
We’re here to answer your questions and make your workout a little easier.
While dairy is delicious, it can make you feel sluggish and lethargic, which is exactly the opposite of how you want to feel before your workout! Dairy products, like yogurt, take longer to digest because of the high protein content, so avoid them completely for two to three hours before you exercise.
Alternative: Eat steel-cut oats instead. Oats are loaded with (healthy) carbs which keep you full and also give you tons of energy to power through that cycling class.
“If you work out in the morning, this is a great pre-workout breakfast,” Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, tells Everyday Health.
These guys get a bad rap, but that’s because many protein bars contain too many calories and not enough “body boosting protein.” Certified nutritionist Rania Batayneh tells Mind Body Green that “if you're consuming a protein bar with less than 10 grams of protein, it will drop your blood sugar and you'll feel more tired while exercising.”
Alternative: Eat a banana. They contain carbohydrates to fuel your workout, and their high amounts of potassium will keep muscle cramps at bay. Go for a healthy protein bar after your workout instead!
This one might surprise you, but fruit juices will make you feel drained only minutes into your workout. Why? Because they have a high concentration of sugar, and will make your blood sugar levels drop after your intense workout.
Alternative: Eat an apple instead. While apples still contain sugar, they also have high amounts of fiber that help absorb energy. Plus, that sugar is naturally occuring!
“For the most part, I recommend a combo of protein and carbs, like apple slices dipped in peanut butter,” Jessica Levinson, RD, tells Everyday Health.
Salads and veggies are awesome for lunch or dinner, but not as a pre-gym snack. Greens like broccoli, spinach and kale can make your stomach ache.
“Thanks to their high-fiber content, leafy green vegetables are almost guaranteed to cause abdominal distention—aka gas and bloating,” Philip Goglia, author of Turn Up The Heat: Unlock the Fat-Burning Power of Your metabolism, told Women’s Health.
Alternative: Eat pistachios and blueberries. They’re high in protein and carbohydrates, plus they’re great to help your muscles recover after a tough workout on the free weights.
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