7 Foods to Avoid Before a Workout (and What to Try Instead)

Hey Angels and Alphas,

What to consume right before heading off to the gym can be an important consideration for many active people, but what NOT to consume can be just as important when determining the quality of your pre-workout nutrition. 

Exercise exercises a massive amount of blood to be pumped through your working muscles, and consequently, blood flow to the stomach is usually reduced while you’re training. Because of this, you don’t really want your stomach to be working harder than it has to. 

While some athletes do have an iron stomach that can take on anything, most people, in general, should avoid consuming these 7 foods we’re about to discuss:


Think in terms of black bean burgers and veggie-bean burritos. Beans are not exactly easy for the body to digest, so they’re often linked to excess productions of gas and difficult digestion. Athletes on high-fiber vegetarian diets may have a GI tract that’s naturally adjusted to handle a load of beans with no problems, but for most people, it’s a pre-workout fiber bomb. It’s a culprit for an upset stomach because of the indigestible carbohydrate raffinose, which beans are an abundant source of.


We’re talking about broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and more. While these vegetables are traditionally healthy and contain antioxidant properties, the high amounts of sulfur-containing compounds inside them might cause excess production of gas. These veggies are naturally abundant in raffinose, making eating a bowl of veggies before a workout session practically a guarantee for digestive distress. 


If you’re sensitive or even intolerant to lactose, it’s important to avoid it. Especially before training. Lactose-intolerant athletes should definitely stay away from lactose-heavy dairy products such as soft cheeses and milk because they could lead to intestinal cramping. Hard cheeses, kefir, yogurt, and lactose-free milk are all delicious dairy options you can still go for if you’re on a low-lactose diet.


Before you head off to the gym, do your best to avoid greasy foods such as fries, pizza, burgers, and their equals. They contain high amounts of saturated fats that stay in the digestive system for longer and are difficult to digest. They can cause bloating and cramping.


While natural fruit juice does contain carbs and fluids (which are both important pre-workout requirements,) chugging down a cup of juice immediately before a workout is definitely not a good idea. Fruit juice is abundant in fructose, a natural sugar that cannot digest as quickly and could cause stomach cramping, especially for people with irritable bowel syndrome of sensitivities to fructose. Juices such as orange juice or tart cherry are a great choice for active people as they provide you with vitamins and minerals required for your body to recover, but it’s best to consume them as a part of your post-workout smoothie or a meal at least an hour before your workout.


Pastries, scones, and ice creams are a big “no” on today’s list. Desserts are high in cream, butter, and oils – they’re not what your body needs when it’s trying to perform at its best.


While some people might have no problem training after eating an extra-hot bowl of Thai food, spicy foods stimulate our digestive system so much they can even cause heartburn, which is definitely not what you want during a workout. Before working out, athletes are advised to avoid spicy foods for up to 24 hours so they can give their digestive tract much-needed rest.


Before a workout, you want to choose bland foods that are easy to digest.

Next time you’re running out the door for a workout, stick to a simple carbohydrate that can be easily digested. Some good options here include a slice of toast with jam, a banana, a box of raisings, or a few sips of a sports drink. 

If you’ve got at least an hour before your workout, here are a few more satiating options to consider:

  • Turkey sandwich on some whole-grain bread
  • A bagel with banana and peanut butter
  • Rice bowl with veggies and chicken
  • Oatmeal with nut butter and fresh berries 
  • Smoothie bowl or yogurt

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