Wednesday, September 18, 2013

3 Foods you should avoid before a workout

While what can and cannot be tolerated before a workout varies among athletes, there are some foods that should be avoided in the 30 minutes before a workout. This is because these foods in general will not provide enough of the appropriate energy needed by working muscles in a short enough time frame.

1. Nuts
A great source of protein and fat, nuts provide zero carbohydrate. Since carbohydrate is the muscle's preferred source of energy during a workout, this is a problem. Plus the protein, fat and fiber found in nuts will slow down digestion, which means it will take much longer for this less-than-ideal energy source to get to your working muscles. To fix this, pair nuts with dried fruit (carbohydrate source) and eat at least 60 minutes before a workout to allow time for the energy to get to your muscles.

2. Cow's/Soy Milk
While milk contains carbohydrate and protein, the ratio is not what you need before a workout (i.e. not enough carbohydrate). To fix this, choose low-fat chocolate cow's or soy milk. The added chocolate will provide carbohydrate as well as anti-inflammatory properties (from the cocoa). Assuming you can tolerate milk products, this is a great option before a workout. But make sure the chocolate milk is low-fat. Fat slows down how quickly your muscles receive the nutrients. Drink this about 45 minutes before your workout.

3. Protein shakes
There are many definitions of "protein shakes", so for this example I am referring to a shake made with pure protein powder (i.e. no carbohydrate) and water. While many athletes swear by the pre-workout protein shake, protein cannot get into the muscles without carbohydrate. In other words, carbohydrate provides the key to open the door to the muscles. In addition, during high intensity workouts, such as lifting, the body can only utilize energy from carbohydrate, which shows the importance of this energy source. Instead of pure protein powder, combine this shake with a source of carbohydrate such as a banana. And watch the total amount of protein you take in to get the ratio of carbohydrate correct. For most powders, 1/2 scoop provides around 15 grams protein, which is perfect pre-workout when combined with a banana or 1/2 cup dried fruit, which each provide ~30 grams carbohydrate. Use this option at least 45 minutes before your workout for adequate digestion time. 

So what else is good pre-workout fuel when you only have 30 minutes to spare? In general, it best to stick to mainly carbohydrate options. Try:
-2 cups Gatorade
-4-6 graham cracker squares (i.e. 2-3 whole sheets)
-2 handfuls pretzel tiny twists
-1 package Nature Valley crunchy granola bars

Be Extraordinary,


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