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Health and Fitness News

Fuel Matters

When it’s time to hit the gym, you’ve got to power up. Do it right by avoiding these foods.

You hear a lot about what you should eat before exercise. To fuel your body for your best performance, it helps to eat a snack or small meal one to three hours before your workout. But you can’t go with just any food. The best pre-workout fuel is a combo of carbs for energy and protein to build and repair muscles.

If you want to feel energized and not struggle with digestive issues during your routine, some foods should be avoided before working out. Here are some of them.

Cruciferous Vegetables

For the most part, eating veggies is a great idea. They can cause problems when eaten before a workout. You especially want to avoid veggies that are high in fiber. That includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Those cruciferous vegetables contain sulfur compounds that are hard to digest and may cause gas. Leave them for later in the day to avoid a mid-workout bathroom break.

Fatty and Fried Foods

Your body needs healthy fats for health, but too much of any kind of fat right before you exercise is a bad idea. Especially fatty, fried foods. While they may taste great, they also take longer to digest. As a result, they take a lot of energy to digest, and that’s energy you need for your workout. Since the digestive system requires blood flow to keep food moving, digestion slows down during exercise and you may become bloated, crampy, or have diarrhea. So skip the greasy burger, fries, mozzarella sticks, or onion rings before your workout. In fact, if you want your workout to really have a punch, avoid fried foods altogether.

Beans

Eating beans before you work out is a recipe for bloating and gas. No matter how much you love bean burritos, black bean burgers, or baked beans, stay away. Their high-fiber content will get you every time. Any other time of day, go for it. But before you hit the gym, beans have no place in your snack or meal regimen.

Sugar

Sugar is never good for you. It’s especially useless before workout, when you need energy for a prolonged period of time. Your body burns sugar for quick energy. But that energy doesn’t last long. When it’s gone, you feel groggy and zapped.

Many foods are clearly high in sugar. Soda, lemonade, candy, cookies, pastries, and other desserts. You know to avoid these foods before you exercise. But sugar is hiding all over the place. Some foods with added sugar are even advertised as healthy, pre-workout snacks. If you want lasting energy and a performance boost, avoid high amounts of sugar wherever it’s found. Check the ingredients in granola bars, protein bars, smoothies, yogurt, and cereals. If it has added sugar, throw it in the trash.

Energy Drinks

You may think an energy drink will help you power up for a challenging workout. You’re wrong. Yes, the caffeine found in energy drinks may help improve performance. But at what cost? Unlike sports drinks, energy drinks can’t replace lost fluids or balance electrolytes. If you don’t hydrate yourself with other beverages, you may get dehydrated.

Too much caffeine can also increase your heart rate and blood pressure. If you’ve already had coffee that day, wait until after your workout for an energy drink. Or just drink water. You’ll feel better, avoid useless calories, and help all your body systems function better.