If you’re serious about your workouts, you already know how important the food you put into your body is for supporting your training goals. Food is fuel, and that’s especially true for those who participate in any form of exercise. Time and time again, newbies make the ultimate mistake by following a weight-loss ‘diet’ that allows them 1,000 calories a day and then trying to go hard at the gym. No one can survive for long periods on 1,000 calories a day, let alone lift weights, ride the bike or sweat through a CrossFit WOD.
Workout veterans better understand how important it is to fuel your body for exercise, but still, there are a number of super healthy foods that can actually hinder your performance in the gym. Here are five foods that can sabotage your workouts. It’s best to steer clear of them pre-workout if you want peak performance in the gym.
Yes, avocados are filled with goodness, including monounsaturated (good) fats and vitamins A, B, C, E and K as well as iron, copper and potassium. It’s safe to say they are a nutritional powerhouse and should most definitely be included in your diet—just as long as you don’t eat them before a workout.
About 88 percent of an avocado’s total calories come from fat. Sure, it’s the healthy kind, but the problem is, foods that have a high fat content can be difficult to digest and so sit in the stomach. The body then pulls blood into the stomach to aid digestion, and when that happens during a workout, it can lead to cramping and discomfort.
Needless to say, a stomach cramp is the last thing you want when you’re trying to run on the treadmill. So it’s best to avoid avocados for at least two hours prior to a workout.
2) Fruit Juice
If you’re someone who works out in the a.m., you may want to think about your morning beverage choices. Of course, we are all looking for ways to get that daily dose of vitamin C in order to fight off free radicals and boost our immune systems, and what better way than to start the day with a glass of fresh OJ? The only thing is, when you hit that hardcore rhythm section in your morning pound class, you may just feel like you’re ready to keel over!
Fruit juice, even the 100 percent freshly squeezed variety, has a high sugar content with little fiber. That will go straight through your system and cause your blood sugar to crash.
If you want to get that vitamin C fix in the morning, you’re better off actually eating an orange, complete with fiber, to keep your workout on track.
3) Protein Bars
Protein is the essential macronutrient that is found in every human cell. It helps build and retain muscle mass and even aids recovery. Nutrition-conscious people try to eat a diet that is packed with more protein than anything else. Many exercisers rely on protein bars and powders for a convenient quick-protein-fix when they are on the run or between regular-food meals. The problem is, some protein bars are simply overpriced candy bars marketed as healthy options.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some good-quality choices out there, but not all bars are created equal. Many have less than 10 grams of protein and are packed with sugars and sweeteners while tipping the scales at over 200 calories.
Those bars will actually cause you to feel more tired during your workouts. Instead, look for a one with only a handful of natural ingredients, fewer than 200 calories and 15 grams or more of protein.
4) Hard-Boiled Eggs
Eggs are the gold standard of protein and make an excellent addition to your diet, and hard-boiled eggs, a staple of diet menus, provide an easily portable snack. Even so, eating them before exercise is not the way to go.
The protein in hard-boiled eggs just sits in your stomach and takes a long time to digest, which can weigh you down during a workout.
5) Green Bananas (unripe fruit)
My mom always told me to grab a banana on the way out the door in the morning, as they are a great source of energy and would help me stave off hunger until lunch. The thing is, I like my bananas a little unripe, still quite firm with no brown patches. If you are like me, it could be seriously hindering your workout performance.
Eating unripe fruit before a workout is a bad idea, as the starch is still at a stage where it is difficult to digest. That can cause serious cramping, gas and bloating—not exactly the workout trifecta you are looking for.
Meet the Author: A busy mother of two who had slipped into an unhealthy lifestyle, Helen Sanders changed her ways and dedicated her life to spreading the benefits of good nutrition. 5 years ago she created HealthAmbition.com with the goal of providing easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice for regular people with busy lives. Her ongoing search for new information led her to DigitalMuscle.com, where we now welcome her as a contributor. Helen’s blog, “Health Ambition,” offers a practical approach to eating well and living healthfully.
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