20 Foods To Avoid Before Exercising


When it comes to building muscles and trying to lose weight, eating is everything. Your diet is just as important, if not more important, than what you are doing in the gym. There are foods that are great to eat after workouts, but these same foods might not be recommended before workouts.

Planning out your meals, what you eat and when, is a very important part of having a good and effective exercise routine. Here are 20 foods that you should avoid eating before working out.

1. High-Fiber Salads

This one is pretty tricky. Many would think that a light salad with tons of vegetables would be the perfect thing to eat before going to the gym, but it really is not. If you are eating a lot of high-fiber vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage or lettuce before your workout, you might experience some problems.

These types of foods can lead to stomach problems when they are coupled with serious workouts, and that’s why they should be avoided before working out if you want to be able to exercise comfortably. A salad is a perfect lunch for your recovery day, however.

But if you are planning a serious workout with a lot of cardio involved, eating a fiber bomb can only bring you discomfort and make it harder for you to excel in your exercise plan. Also, salads won’t give you the carbs you need for a high intensity workout.



2. Protein Bars

If you are going to eat protein bars, then you might as well just spend less money and buy a cheaper candy bar, because you will be getting just about the same effects. Most protein bars out there have just as much sugar as a chocolate candy bar, and they really aren’t going to do enough to help you survive a big workout.

If the bar has more than 200 calories and doesn’t really offer you much protein, which is what most protein bars on the market look like, then you are better off skipping them. Protein bars will potentially weigh you down while you are working out and they can make you feel tired. If you are going to try a protein bar before a workout, make sure that it has more than 10 grams of protein. If it doesn’t it will just drop your blood sugar levels and make you feel exhausted.


3. Avocados

Avocados are generally great to eat, just not before a workout. Avocados are great because they offer you a great and tasty source of monounsaturated fat, which is great for people trying to build muscle. So eating avocados throughout the day is definitely recommended, just make sure that you are staying away from them at least two hours before you plan to go to the gym and get your workout in.

Avocados and other foods that contain a lot of fiber or fat will definitely weight you down and potentially cause you stomach problems. The reason for this is that they are digested very slowly. These types of food pull a lot of blood into the stomach in order to help with digestion, and because of that, eating these types of foods before engaging in serious exercises can potentially not only lead to stomach issues, but to cramping as well.


4. Spicy Food

Like many of the other foods mentioned in this list, spicy foods are great to eat when you are trying to lose some weight. Of course, you’re not going to help yourself by eating a spicy taco from Taco Bell, but if you are eating healthy food that is spicy, you are going to help your body out when trying to burn calories and fat faster.

And they are great to eat for any meal, but not right before you are planning to get in a workout. If you are eating spicy Mexican food or Thai food before a workout, you are not doing yourself any favors. When mixed with exercise, spicy food can give you heartburn and other digestive problems. When you are exercising strenuously, there is a good chance that some of the spices can backwash into your esophagus, and more times than not, this can lead to heartburn issues.


5. Smoothies

It should be stressed that this goes mostly for store-bought smoothies. If you want to take the time to make your own smoothies, then it’s really not that bad of an option before a work out. Just make sure that you are making the smoothie using real fruit, not fruit juices that are store-bought.

If you are going to make a smoothie at home, just keep it simple. Make it with some fresh fruit and a couple scoops of protein powder, that’s all you really need.

But if you are buying smoothies that are made in stores or smoothie shops, nine out of ten times you are getting smoothies that have way to much added sugar and fat in them. These types of smoothies will likely weight you down and drain your energy while you are working out. So if you feel like this is what you like to drink before a workout, take the time to make the smoothie yourself in order to cut out unnecessary sugar and fat.


6. Gel Packs

A lot of people think that gel packs are perfect before a workout. But in fact, they really are not. Gel packs are recommended for very high level workouts. If you are a world class athlete and you are going to be doing a high intensity cardio workout for over an hour and a half, then sure, gel packs might help you get that energy you need.

But if you are a regular Joe headed to the gym, all they will do is weigh you down.

According to studies that have been done, these gel packs have a lot of sugar. If you are taking them before a workout, chances are that your insulin levels will be disrupted because of all of the sugar.

It really is recommended only for incredibly intense training, and if you are taking them just to get your regular daily workout in, taking gel packs is just as bad as eating a couple cupcakes before working out in terms of sugar intake.


7. Flavored Water

If you have ever seen an advertisement for flavored water, then you have probably noticed that most of them say that these beverages are perfect for people that work out. But in reality, they are no different from the average sports drink, and they really are not that beneficial at all.

The simple fact of the matter is that if something has a lot of sugar in it, then it is not good for consuming before a workout. But in the case o most flavored water, they usually contain something far worse than sugar – artificial sweeteners.

Of course, artificial sweeteners are not recommended, no matter what. But they are especially detrimental to people who are working out on a regular basis. It has been proven in studies that artificial sweeteners can seriously disrupt the work of beneficial bacteria in your stomach. This bacteria works to improve your digestion and the absorption of nutrients.


8. Fruit Juice

If you are thinking of drinking a tall glass of fruit juice before your workout, don’t do it. If you want that fruity taste and the vitamins, then you are better off simply eating some fruit. It is much better to eat an orange before your workout than it is to drink some orange juice.

And that does not only go for store-bought juice, it goes for fresh squeezed juice as well. Even when you are squeezing your fruit yourself, you are pretty much taking all the fiber out of the fruit and leaving nothing but the sugar. You will get some vitamins, but since they are in juice form, they will go right through your system and probably result in a blood sugar crash after your exercise session.

So if you are really set on having some fresh fruit tastes in your system before working out, eat the fruit instead of making juice out of it. It’s a better option.



9. Muffins

Eating muffins sounds like a bad idea from the start, but for some reason a lot of people think that it’s a good decision to have one before working out. There really is nothing good about eating a muffin or any type of baked good before going to the gym.

The bottom line is that they are incredibly hard to digest and they will end up making you feel like you have a weight in your stomach instead of on your bench press. Muffins contain lots of butter, oil and shortening in most cases, just like most other baked goods. This means that they are incredibly slow to digest and they will really take their time leaving your stomach.

Eating a muffin is not a bad idea when you are looking for a simply breakfast, but make sure that you have a two hour break at least before you go to the gym after your breakfast.

10. Trail Mix

Trail mix has a lot of things going for it. It’s easy to pack and take on the road with you when you need a quick snack and don’t have time to prepare anything. It’s also a really healthy option for a mid-day snack and generally a good thing to eat for people who are training and trying to stay fit.

However, it’s not the best decision to eat some trail mix right before going to the gym. Trail mix has a lot of different components in it, which makes it a very balanced snack. But at the same time, this makes it pretty hard to digest. That’s why it might weigh you down in the gym. Another thing about trail mix is that it could make you pretty gassy. And the worst thing you can have in the gym is gas. If you are working out at home, then it might not be that bothersome, but at a public gym it’s a completely different story.


11. Unripe Bananas

There’s a tricky thing about bananas when it comes to eating them before a workout. If you are going to eat a banana, you have to make sure that it is a ripe one. It is even better if it is overripe, in fact. There is a big difference between eating a ripe and unripe banana before workouts.

And it’s not just bananas – generally, any unripe food is not recommended before working out. Unripe bananas can give you bad gas and the can also cause bloating and other stomach problems as well. So make sure that when you are picking out your banana before your workout, you are getting one that has no green on it, not even at the stem. Try to find the bananas that have brown spots on them. This indicates that they are ripe and perfect for consumption before a workout. When you eat a ripe banana, the sugar will be absorbed much easily.


12. Flaxseeds

This is another example of a food that is incredibly healthy and can help you to lose weight faster. However, it is not a food that you want to be consuming before a workout. Flaxseeds contain a lot of fiber, which is definitely a good thing, just not before you workout.

When eating flaxseeds before your workout, you can experience a lot of the stomach problems that people point to associated with eating foods that are high in fiber. Of course, nothing will happen if you eat them regularly, but the intense exercise combined with the fiber can definitely stimulate some stomach problems. You could experience bloating, gas and other stomach issues. If you are going to eat flaxseeds, make sure that you are eating them at least two hours before you hit the gym. You should generally stay away from fiber before your exercising and focus on foods that are full of protein and carbs instead.


13. Protein Shakes

This is probably the most common misconception out there. A lot of weightlifters love their protein shakes and they should. But many of them make the mistake of consuming these shakes before the exercise. Most of the protein shakes that are available on the market contain a lot of ingredients that are not good to consume before workouts.

For example, your average protein shake will probably contain a lot of processed ingredients, way too much sugar and some dairy products. Consuming this before you do some serious lifting can give you bloating, gas and cause you to experience muscle fatigue.

This is definitely not what you want to experience when trying to build muscle in the weight room. If you really love your protein shakes and believe that they are helping you build muscle, you are better off drinking them after your workout instead of drinking one right before you start.


14. Hummus

If there is a general theme in this list, then it’s that there are tons of foods out there that are really healthy and good for people who are trying to lose weight and gain some muscle. However, not all of these foods should be eaten right before your workout. Hummus is one of these that you should stay away from directly before your workouts.

Hummus is a bean based food, and most bean based food is not very easily digestible. Hummus has indigestible carbohydrates and a lot of them. These can definitely give you gas and bloating if you eat then right before working out.

It is definitely a great healthy snack to indulge in, just don’t eat it before you work out. There are plenty of other healthy foods that have these indigestible carbs, such as peppers, cauliflower and broccoli. They are all healthy foods, just make sure you are eating them after a workout, not before.


15. Energy Drinks

We really wouldn’t recommend energy drinks at all. People like them because they believe that they will keep them going during long workout, but in fact, they will do exactly the opposite. Most of these energy drinks, if not all, contain a lot of artificial sweeteners or sugar. Sugar will definitely slow you down and cause fatigue.

You can also expect gas and bloating if you drink energy drinks before working out. Basically, energy drinks are not good for you in any way. Another problem with energy drinks is that they will cause you to dehydrate a lot faster. And when you are working out, the most important thing to do is to remain well hydrated.

If you really need some caffeine as a pick-me-up for your training sessions, there are better ways to obtain it. The best thing you could do is to drink some high-antioxidant green tea or black tea before a workout.


16. Dairy Foods

Generally, you shouldn’t beat eating or drinking anything with dairy before you workout. Low-fat dairy products are great for when you are on a diet, just not before workouts. If you are having a glass of milk right before your workout, you are probably not performing at your top level.

Dairy will definitely slow you down if you are consuming it right before a workout. Most people who take their bodies seriously do consume dairy, however, just not right before the gym or after. If you are going to have some dairy, do it either two hours before or two hours after your workout for the best results.

If you are having dairy before a workout, there is a good chance that you will fell acidic and experience a lot of burping as well. Dairy right before a workout can make you feel lethargic as well, which of course is not a good thing.


17. Roasted Nuts

Nuts that are pure and not salted are perfectly fine. However, even though rusted nuts are a pretty good snack when you want something tasty that is not too fatty, they are not good for your workouts. Roasted nuts and salty nuts are especially bad. Generally, the saltier they are, the worst they are for your workout. Eating salty foods before you work out can lead to hydration. The salt in the foods demands water from your body, and this ruins the fluid balance you need to perform at a high level when exercising.

These roasted and salted nuts are also pretty high in sodium, which is a bad thing. If you are going to have some nuts, then make them raw and unsalted. Stay away from roasted, salted nuts, and other processed foods like chips, lunch meats and jerky. They will only impede your ability to have a successful workout.


18. Coffee

When talking about coffee, the same rules apply as when talking about energy drinks. Coffee is definitely not as unhealthy as an energy drink, but it’s still not good to drink before a workout. And if you drink your coffee with milk, then it’s twice as bad, since dairy products are not good before a workout either.

Caffeine can definitely help with your workout, but the sugar and calories that come with most coffees will do nothing for your workout except make it harder to get through. If you are buying coffees at coffee shops like Starbucks, or you are buying ice coffees from the super market, then you are consuming huge amounts of sugar every time you drink one. This will definitely lead to fatigue if you are going through a strenuous workout afterwards.

As started previously, having some green or black tea in order to get your caffeine fix before the gym is probably the best way to go.


19. Hard Boiled Eggs

Hard boiled eggs are great to eat when you are trying to build some muscle. They provide a very pure and lean source of protein. So feel free to eat them whenever you want, just make sure that it is at least two hours before or after working out.

One of the biggest problems with hard boiled eggs is that even though they do provide a lot of great protein, they do not give you any carbs. So that means that you are not really getting energy from them, and when you are picking a food to eat before the gym, you need to focus on getting energy from it. Also, protein stays in the stomach for a very long while and it is hard to digest. This could cause you to feel bloated or heavy when working out.

Wait about two hours after your workout, and then you can eat all of the hard boiled eggs that you want.


20. Rice Cakes

The only reason rice cakes are good is because they are low in calories. A lot of people who are trying to lose weight like to eat rice cakes because they can eat as many as they want without having to worry about calorie counting.

Sure, there are no calories in rice cakes, but there’s hardly anything else there either. All you are getting is some sugar and salt, and that’s the last thing you need before a work out. Generally, rice cakes offer absolutely no nutrition to your body and there is no protein in them either.

You need vitamins, nutrients and protein if you are going to have a high energy workout and increase your strength. Rice cakes won’t help you with any facet of your workout.

Feel free to eat them late at night when you have a craving for a snack and want to have a calorie-free treat, but don’t consume them before a workout because they don’t help your body out in any way.

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