You've changed into your all-new gym 'drobe, ready to burn some serious calories but your intense AF workout goes straight outta the window thanks to uncalled for and unexplainable stomach cramping—accompanied with an unparalleled wave of fatigue! Is the picture familiar?
While you may be blaming lack of sleep, or your general lack of fitness and brood over it, chances are that your diet may be playing the devil's role here. No, not the foods you ate after working out, instead what you helped yourself to before gearing up for your workout. Any kind of discomfort especially if it is gastrointestinal, can be extremely discouraging.
"Exercise and digestion are mutually exclusive," says Shawn Khodadadian, MD, of Manhattan Gastroenterology. "When you exercise, your body isn't using its energy for digestion. It slows that process so it can divert as much blood as possible to your muscles and lungs."
Essentially, certain foods can result in heartburn, stomach ache or even vomiting if eaten before a work-out, which ordinarily can be perfectly digested by the body.
Basis that theory, certain foods that can be given a miss just before your workout are —
1. PROTEIN SHAKES & BARS
This nutrient that you suddenly start giving so much more emphasis to once you're under the realm of fitness—ain't all that great for your body just minutes before a workout, notes Khodadadian. A protein shake or a high-protein bar just before a full-blown sesh may wreak havoc on your gut. It's better to consume this after you're done sweating it out.
Milk consists of high quantities of protein and fat, something which the body takes time and more effort to digest. If you can't live without your daily dose of chocolate shake, you need to make sure you slurp it up after your workout. In case you absolutely need that boost as a pre-workout mix—fool your brain into adopting a pseudo-lactose variant such as whey protein mixed with filtered water. But even then, consume the drink at least a few hours before your workout.
3. HIGH-FIBER CEREAL
The logic is same. Anything that is difficult to digest—be it protein or fibre—which is what your cereal comprises of predominantly, should be avoided before exercising. We naturally sway towards carb-rich foods to load up on energy, to power through our workout, but the latter can interfere with your digestion and cause problems. A better alternative would be oatmeal—high in carbs, but low in fiber. Bananas and mangoes will also work.
4. SPICY FOOD
This may be the kick to your workout, but there's a high chance your digestive juices may altogether miss out on the spicy roll you just gorged on it, thanks to its aversion to an easy digestion. Our advice? Skip it altogether.
No we're not saying that you need to let go of salad. Relax! But maybe, just save it for another time of the day, say after your workout? Raw veggies are high in fiber, along with intact enzymes and cell walls, which is a mammoth task for your gut to digest. Your new HIIT workout needs more energy to be kick-ass, and you need to save for it by not spending it unnecessarily on hard-to-digest fibers.
WHEN SHOULD YOU EAT?
Although some people advocate "fasted cardio" workouts, it's usually more effective to eat something before exercising, according to Khodadadian. He says,
"Not eating anything before a workout will leave you feeling tired and weak. Just give your body the proper time to digest before exercising, you may need two or three hours for digestion."
By waiting a few hours, the blood sugar levels which shoot up to aid digestion, drop back to normal, giving you the energy you need to devote to your workout — without a stomach ache or heartburn along the way.
Source: MyFitnessPal Blog