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5 Food Mistakes to Avoid Before Exercise, Says Fitness Expert

Planning to break a sweat? Well, it's essential to know what to eat and what not to. Avoid eating these foods before you work out, as they hinder your performance in the gym.

Emilia Moore
5 Food Mistakes to Avoid Before Exercise, Says Fitness Expert
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Garden-variety workouts are a dime a dozen these days. With so many people competing for attention in the fitness industry, it's no wonder that creative new workout programs are popping up all the time.

While a great workout can help you achieve your fitness goals, what you eat before and after your workout can be just as important.

That's because the foods you eat before and after a workout can either help or hinder your efforts. Eating the right food items can give you the energy you need to power through your workout, whereas eating the wrong foods can leave you feeling sluggish and unmotivated. That's why it's important to choose your pre-workout meals carefully.

So, what should you eat before any workout? The answer may surprise you: it's not always about what you eat but what you don't eat. That's right. Sometimes, avoiding certain foods is just as important as including others in your diet.

For example, eating a greasy cheeseburger before hitting the weights will probably not do much for your energy levels. However, if you skip the burger and instead focus on getting some protein and healthy fats into your system, you'll be better prepared to tackle your workout enthusiastically.

That’s why it’s necessary to learn about food choices that’ll make your sweat worth shedding and enhance the effects of your exercises. And if you are eager to do so, read till the end!

Why Does Food Matter?

When you're chewing down on a pre-workout snack, it's important to be aware of which foods will digest quickly, give you sustained energy, and sit like a brick in your stomach.

If you're not careful, you could end up feeling nauseous or lightheaded during workouts, which you certainly don't want! Unfortunately, the food industry is built around hydrating and fueling up for workouts and does not pay as close attention to the foods that should be avoided.

Because the wrong food items in your stomach can make your workout less effective than it could be or, in the worst case scenario, cause gastrointestinal problems. So, what shouldn't you eat, then?

Leslie J Bonci, RD, the Director of Sports Nutrition at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, Pittsburgh, thinks there is no definitive answer to this question. She says, “It depends on your exercise routine, effort level, weight objectives, and stomach tolerance.”

However, when considering what will maximize your performance and what sabotages it, there are some basic foods to avoid that even experts agree upon. Do you want to know which ones?

Come along!

5 Foods to Avoid Before Exercise

Everybody knows that eating healthy is important for our overall health and fitness, but what you eat before exercise can also make a big difference in how your body responds to physical activity.

While there are multiple different opinions on what the best pre-workout meal is, there are a few foods that you should definitely avoid if you want to get the most out of your workout:

1. Protein Bars

It's no secret that working out is tough. You have to push yourself physically and mentally, and sometimes it feels like you're never going to see results. That's why hundreds of people turn to supplements and energy bars to give them an extra boost before they hit the gym.

However, one type of bar that you should avoid before working out is a protein bar. These are high in protein content and low in carbs, which might sound ideal for a workout, but the reality is that they can lead to fatigue and dehydration.

That's because protein takes longer to digest than carbs, which means it can sit in your stomach like a rock during a high-intensity workout, leading to cramps, nausea, and other digestive problems.

In addition, these bars are often filled with sugar, and we all know that sugar is nothing but empty calories. Their sugar can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels, leading to an energy crash during your workout.

So if you're looking for a pre-workout snack, it's best to stick with something that will be quickly digested, such as fruit. However, protein bars are excellent for post-workout eating.

2. Smoothies

Any fitness enthusiast will tell you that proper nutrition is key to a successful workout. And yet, so many of us make the mistake of downing a smoothie right before hitting the gym. After all, it's packed with healthy fruits and vegetables, so what could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, quite a lot.

First, smoothies are often loaded with sugar, giving you a quick burst of energy followed by an inevitable crash.

Second, the high fructose content of most of these drinks can lead to gastrointestinal distress during exercise.

And lastly, drinking a smoothie right before working out can actually prevent your body from burning fat, as it will be busy digesting all those nutrients.

So next time you're gearing up for a workout, reach for a glass of water instead of a fruity drink. Your body (and your waistline) will thank you.

3. Eggs

Before you head out for your next workout, you may want to rethink your breakfast of choice. While eggs are a great protein source, they can also be a problem if you eat them before exercising. The reason has to do with how your body digests them.

Eggs are high in a nutrient called lecithin, which helps break down fat. However, lecithin also makes it difficult for your body to absorb other nutrients, including carbohydrates, which can lead to an energy crash midway through your workout.

Also, they are high in protein and fat, so they take longer to digest than carbohydrates. It means that if you eat them before exercising, your body will be working hard to digest them instead of being able to direct all its energy toward your workout.

So if you're looking for sustained energy during exercise, it's best to avoid eating eggs before you hit the gym.

4. Avocado

It's a well-known fact that avocados are packed with healthy fats. However, you might want to think twice before eating an avocado before your next workout. Here's why:

This fruit is high in fat and calories, making you feel sluggish during exercise. In addition, the fat in avocados can delay stomach emptying, which means you may not have enough energy for a strenuous workout. Finally, the potassium in them can cause cramping during exercise.

Also, the calorie-dense nature of avocados means they can add extra pounds if you’re not careful.

So if you’re looking to get the most out of your workout, it’s best to avoid this fruit beforehand. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a delicious avocado afterward!

5. Vegetables

When it comes to working out, there are a lot of different opinions on the best way to fuel your body. Some people swear by a pre-workout meal, while others prefer to exercise on an empty stomach. So, what is the best option?

Well, whatever you choose, it turns out that eating vegetables before exercise may not be the best idea. They are typically high in fiber, which can take a long time to digest, meaning that they will remain in your stomach when you start working out, leading to cramps and discomfort.

They tend to be high in water content, making you feel bloated and uncomfortable during your workout.

In addition, many veggies contain compounds that can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. It can be dangerous if you are exercising strenuously.

For these reasons, it’s generally best to avoid eating them before exercise. Instead, focus on easily digestible foods like fruits or grain-based snacks.


1. What happens if you eat before you work out?

The main thing that happens if you eat before you work out is that you'll have more energy to burn. Eating something small, like a piece of fruit or a granola bar, about an hour before you work out should do the trick. You'll be able to power through your routine without feeling tired and sluggish.

2. Why is it important to eat before exercise?

It is important to eat before exercise because if you don't, you might feel lightheaded or sick. Eating before you work out will help give you the energy you need to exercise and help keep your blood sugar levels stable.

The Bottom Line

So, if you're looking to get in shape and are wondering what foods to avoid before your next workout, now you know. Keep these five items off your plate, and you'll be good to go! Have any questions about fitness or nutrition? Leave them in the comments below, and we'll be happy to answer them.

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Emilia Moore

Emilia Moore earned her master’s degree in community health education from a well known University. She’s a freelance writer based in America whose work has appeared in various online publications, including not only DMoose, but other known blogging websites. Today, it's easy to find health

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