Foods to Avoid When Exercising

Everyone who leads an active lifestyle knows the importance of fuelling their bodies with the right foods.

So what should you avoid ingesting before, during, and after your exercise sessions?

Here are some food groups to avoid in and around your workout sessions, and examples of healthful alternatives.

Seeking Advice on Eating Right

Note that everyone has different needs when it comes to exercise and eating for optimum performance. If you have concerns, always check in with a qualified medical professional or a personal or fitness adviser for advice.

A fitness advisor typically has formal qualifications, so they can give you advice on how to fuel your body correctly during, before, and after your workouts.

1. Excessive Fat

While good oils such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats are critical for maintaining good health, you should avoid eating too much fat before, during, and after your exercise sessions.

Fatty, fried foods can take longer than other foods to digest, so it is advisable to keep away from dairy products, fast foods, and fatty meats.

Healthy Alternatives

Sometimes we crave greasy food when we want something more substantial.

Instead of reaching for a packet of chips or a bacon sandwich, choose whole grain foods complemented with some lean protein.

This will fill you up without slowing you down and making you sluggish during exercise.

2. Sugary Foods

Most people find they crave something sugary after an intense workout session, as they are experiencing a natural craving to restore their spent energy.

It is a good idea to avoid sugary foods such as sugary energy bars as they can spike your blood sugar level and lead to weight gain.

Healthy Alternatives

Instead of reaching for a chocolate bar or a sweet muffin, have a meal based on complex carbohydrates and lean protein.

Opt for wholegrain pastas, brown rice, sweet potatoes, lentils, beans, and lean meats.

3. Sugary Drinks

It can be just as tempting to reach for a sugary drink before and right after your workout; however, as with any sugary food, a sugary drink can spike your blood sugar levels and lead to a major crash in energy.

This is probably the last thing you want to experience during your workout.

Healthy Alternatives

Instead of a sugary carbonated drink, blend your own smoothie from berries, nut milks, bananas, and coconut water.

If you crave sugary drinks during a workout, keep a bottle of coconut water in your bag and sip from it as you exercise.

Coconut water is filled with electrolytes, which makes it excellent for workout hydration.

4. Salty Snacks

Salty biscuits and fried chips are all too tempting, but salty snacks can slow you right down during workouts as it can dehydrate your body of essential fluids.

Healthy Alternatives

Instead of filling up on salty snacks, snack on a trail mix of nuts and dried fruit.

If you want something crunchy and savoury, choose from low-salt rice biscuits, unsalted multigrain crackers, or some low-salt homemade popcorn.

5. Refined Carbohydrates

It is easy to fill up on refined carbohydrates such as iced doughnuts, chocolate cake, and sweet biscuits during and after your workout, but it is best to avoid these ‘empty’ foods as they deliver a lot of glucose to your blood stream.

Like any sugary drink or food, they can spike your blood sugar levels, leaving you crashing halfway through your workout.

Healthy Alternatives

Eating complex carbohydrates rather than refined carbohydrates will keep your blood sugar levels steady without a sudden crash.

Snack on wholegrain foods, lean protein, and fruit and vegetables instead.