Exercise seems so simple, but it can feel like there’s a lot of prep behind-the-scenes to hit those fitness goals. Whether it’s sourcing the right equipment, finding the right time to do it or even whether the exercise you’re doing is actually beneficial for you, it feels like half the work is simply... getting ready to exercise.
Thankfully, it turns out choosing what to eat before you get started and what to refuel with is a lot less complicated.
What you shouldn’t eat before a workout
According to Kerry Beeson, a nutritional therapist at Prep Kitchen, the focus of eating before a workout is to provide you with heightened energy, prevent fatigue, and support muscle maintenance and growth.
“As a general rule, you should aim to eat between one and three hours before your session,” she says.
Beeson adds that if you’re eating between one and two hours before your workout, you should keep the quantity small to avoid indigestion.
As for what not to eat, the nutritional therapist recommends steering away from nuts. This is because they are too slow to digest which could lead to discomfort and bloating. She also advises against tucking into cheese and fatty meats.
Instead, it’s recommended that people eat complex carbohydrates which release energy gradually such as sweet potato and brown rice.
Surprisingly, Beeson also advises against high-fibre foods saying: ”Foods which are too high in fibre can cause gas and bloating which isn’t ideal before a high intensity workout. Interestingly, we don’t actually digest fibre, it’s indigestible which can lead to bloating and stomach discomfort if you exercise too soon after.”
What to eat after a workout
While it may be tempting to reach for a sugary snack after a workout (guilty), your body will refuel more effectively with nutritious foods. Beeson recommends tucking into spinach, eggs, lean meats or wholegrain pasta.
Sadly, after a workout still isn’t the greatest time to tuck into nuts and cheese – so it might be worth giving those a miss for now.
As Beeson says: “Try to avoid high fat foods for the first couple of hours following a workout as this can put unnecessary strain on your digestion while your body recovers.”