Confused about what to eat, what not to eat, what to do and what not to do before you hit the gym? Here’s a checklist of what you should avoid when working out becomes a part of your regular routine.
1. Avoid Consuming Too Much of Caffeine – Moderate level of stimulants can help enhance energy and focus, but too much can lead to nausea, anxiety and rapid heartbeat. Too much of caffeine is a diuretic and can result in dehydration, which decreases the workout performance. Many studies have also suggested that caffeine in coffee increases catecholamines, your stress hormones. The stress in return stimulates cortisol and increases insulin. Insulin increases inflammation thereby making you feel lousy.
2. Avoid Lack of Sleep or Oversleeping – Get the right amount of sleep. Lack of sleep or oversleeping causes body to become lethargic and this makes your energy output much lower than normal, thus making workout less effective.
If you plan to hit the gym early in the morning remember to have at least 1 hour gap between your sleep and gym. Also ensure you have gotten at least 7-8 hours of sleep. If not, then plan your gym routine in the evening or afternoon.
3. Eating Too Much or Snacking on Wrong Foods is a Strict No-No – Shubi Husain, Nutritionist, Founder and Managing Director of Health Sanctuary Pvt Ltd. says, “Eating too much of food, too close to your workout can cause stomach pain, cramps and nausea. Always make sure to give yourself at least 2 hours break between your heavy meal and workout.”
What should you eat before your workout?
– Cereal With Skimmed Milk – Banana – Oats – Nuts – Fruit Smoothies – Deviled eggs – Yogurt Parfait
What you should not eat before a workout?
– Fatty or fried foods – Heavy meals like rice, chicken, beef, pulses
“What your body needs before and after a workout often depends upon your unique needs and preferences. A diet plan should be designed according to the intensity, length and type of workout you plan to do. Energy foods including bars, healthy drinks and easily digestible carbohydrates can help prevent the distracting symptom of hunger during workouts and keeps you from depleting your energy too quickly. One can include whole grain cereals, brown rice, whole grain crackers, nuts, fresh fruits, yogurt and egg white before a workout.”
“Foods with lot of fats or fibre should be avoided as they are slow to digest and remain in the stomach for a long time. These foods can cause cramping or discomfort. Meat and heavy curries, fried and fried products, heavy desserts, cakes and pastries, processed foods and whole pulses should be avoided before your workout,” says Shubi Husain.
4. Ditch Stretching – We have been told for many years that stretching before the workout is good for you. But is it? For a very long time “stretching” was thought to be a proper protocol for many health fanatics. But some recent studies and fitness instructors are questioning this practice. Stretching a “cold” muscle can lead to injuries such as pulls and strain and it can also decrease your strength.
Fitness Expert Tip: A bit of cardio warm-up before stretching will help prevent injuries.
5. If Stressed Out? Avoid Doing Workout – Did you know when you are in a state of stress your body releases high level of cortisol, which breaks down muscle tissue and encourages body fat storage? So try to avoid stressful situations, if at all possible, before heading to the gym.
6. Never Go Gyming on an Empty Stomach – Your body needs energy to be able to engage in exercises in an efficient and effective manner. When your stomach is empty, the body will not have the proper fuel for any movement.
Before you hit the gym take complex carbohydrates like fruits or a handful of nuts. Ideally you should aim to take anything an hour or 30 minutes before exercising.
7. Say No to Painkillers – Painkillers generally relax muscles, which can create a counter effect on the muscles and can hinder the exercise session. If you are in need of Pain medication, it will be good to skip the exercise regimen.
According to Shubi Husain, one can do a light cardio or moderate paced walk while taking painkillers.
8. Stay Away From Alcohol – You should keep away from drinking alcohol before your exercise regimen as drinking alcohol can lead to drowsiness, dehydration and lowering of blood vessels. Drinking even one glass of alcohol can lower your blood sugar levels, which can lead to everything from shakiness, weakness or injury.
9. Before Workout Too Much of Water is Bad for You – Excessive consumption of water leads to decreased salt in the blood, which is needed for many bodily functions. Water intoxication symptoms include dizziness, nausea and confusion. “Drink a max of 1 or 2 cups of water at least 30 minutes prior to your workout,” added Shubi Husain.