You’re all geared up for a workout session – happy thoughts, perfect playlist, and stylish workout clothes – but you forgot about one of the most important things: pre-workout fuel. Most of us are so focused on the workout itself that we don’t consider how a meal, or lack thereof, can affect our bodies during a workout.

While we could all guess that loading up on junk food, sweets or alcohol right before a workout isn’t ideal, there are some more surprising culprits on our what not to eat before a workout list. You’ll learn that even if a food is actually “healthy” and ideal for weight loss or gaining muscle mass, it could be detrimental to your workout and leave you feeling worse than before.

Let’s address why pre-workout food matters so much. Exercise requires a large volume of blood to be pumped to your working muscles. That means that the blood flow to your stomachs is reduced during exercise, especially during intense exercise. Likewise, your stomach demands energy to digest food which drains the power from the rest of your body. Don’t get us wrong, when your belly starts to rumble before a workout don’t ignore it, but you also don’t want these two functions to compete thus forcing your body to work harder than it should.

Let’s look at which foods are best to avoid. As we just mentioned, our tummies shouldn’t work too hard when breaking a sweat. Foods that’ll require a lot of effort from your stomach (i.e. complex carbs and other high-fiber) are best kept for after a workout — or are best consumed two or more hours before a workout.

These foods include:

Leafy greens

Greens are usually a great addition to any meal, but the greens fiber breakdown time can cause discomfort during exercise.

Legumes

Legumes like lentils, black beans, and chickpeas have both fiber and the carbohydrate “raffinose” — a combination that can induce bloating and discomfort.

Cruciferous veggies

Just like legumes, they also contain fiber but are hard-to-digest sulfur.

Whole grain bread

Usually an exemplary choice at mealtime, the complex carbs in whole grains are a lot for the body to process.

Raw seeds

High in fat, seeds should be combined with other macros (carbs and protein) to avoid stomach discomfort. Avoid them before a workout if possible.

Nuts

Although healthy fats are an important part of our overall diet, eating high fat meals or snacks like nuts before exercising can compromise your workout. This is because fat is a nutrient which slows digestion, and the more fat in a meal or snack, the longer it takes for that meal or snack to be digested.

Remember, you can really set yourself up for success by fueling your body properly by avoiding these foods before a workout.

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