Heading to the gym? There’s nothing worse than an upset stomach or the feeling of exhaustion mid-workout. You’ve heard of energy-boosting foods before that can increase the quality (therefore, quantity) of your workout. But what else should you be thinking about? How about the list of foods that can make you queasy and hit a “wall” early on in your workout? The last thing you want at the gym is an upset stomach. Do yourself a favor and help avoid Gastrointestinal Distress.
Yep, I’m just going to go ahead and say it. GI Distress symptoms can include heartburn, burping, passing gas, nausea, vomiting, cramping, and the urgent need to… go to the bathroom. It’s not just long distance runners that need to consider the foods that will settle best. I, for one, have a sensitive stomach. What I eat and drink (and digest easily or not-so-easily) can really effect my workout.
Eat your pre-workout meal 3-4 hours ahead of time to allow more time for it to fully digest. If you’re the type of person that can’t workout on an empty stomach, try a “liquid meal” (aka protein shake, fruit smoothie, or meal replacement shake) instead of solid food.
Steer clear of high-fiber foods. Fortunately or unfortunately, most vegetables are high in fiber. So while you’re sticking to your diet, you might be forcing some real discomfort during your workout. Save broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, seeds, and nuts for way before or way after. You’re better off eating sufficient carbs for energy and will be glad you helped yourself avoid the GI discomfort and pain.
Creamy sauces, spices, and other heartburn triggers. Yes, pasta is a great source for carbs and usually settles well. But skip the alfredo, spices, and other heartburn triggers. Your best bet is to eat the pasta plain or with a light tomato sauce.
Fatty snacks. You’re probably (hopefully) not stopping at McDonald’s on the way to the gym, but you might be surprised to hear that healthy snacks like nuts and string cheese (high in fat) will make you feel like you did. They’ll slow you down and make you feel bloated, just like deep-fried foods can during a workout. (No thanks!)
Soda and other carbonated beverages can cause gas and bloating for most people, too. Add in the usual excessive amounts of sugar, and you’re doomed (think: short bursts of energy followed by a crash). While some researchers believe that the caffeine in these drinks can provide an energy boost pre-workout, espresso or a small black tea will typically settle in your stomach better.
Caffeine before working out is really up to you. Some athletes say that it provides a necessary boost, while others suffer from GI symptoms. If you feel like you’re dragging yourself into the gym, you’ll have to try it for yourself. You’ll probably know sooner rather than later if caffeine pre-workout is okay for you.
It’s so cliche… But remember that everyone is different. What works for your personal trainer, friends, or family may not work for you. Everyone has different food tolerances and you might already know some of your personal GI-triggers. The best advice? Stick with what you know. Knowing what settles well for you will help you to avoid those unpleasant stomach pains while working out.
What works (or doesn’t work) for you? Any other foods to avoid pre-workout? Let us know @20sTweet!