The Worst Pre-Workout Foods

March 2, 2018  |  
7 of 15 eating salad in front of a laptop

Do you ever look around the gym or track and think, “Those people look so light on their feet—this looks easy for them—and for me, using the elliptical for ten minutes feels like I’m lugging elephants that are attached to my legs.” There might be a few things at play that makes exercise look so much more effortless for your gym companion. First off, they could be faking it to make everyone else around them feel bad and are secretly suffering on the inside. Second off, they might have just been at this whole fitness thing much longer than you have. And Finally, they might know what to eat (and what not to eat) before going to the gym. Some foods are designed to make your body feel lighter and more energized, and some just make you feel heavier, lethargic, and sluggish. These are the worst foods to eat before a workout.

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Cruciferous veggies

A salad might seem like the right, light snack to have before working out. But that depends on what’s in it. Iceberg lettuce might be okay, but things like kale, celery, or broccoli will cause digestive discomfort that will weigh you down during your workout.

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High fiber bars

Having tons of fiber before a workout isn’t a great idea. It digests slowly, which is great for weight loss, but not great when you’re trying to get into some intense exercise—then you’ll just have a tummy ache and bloat.

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Spicy foods

Spicy food should be avoided before hitting the gym because it can cause heartburn during a workout. Furthermore, it will make your nose run extra hard while you’re hitting the treadmill, which is just a nuisance.

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Dairy causes serious congestion, and you need all of your passageways to be clear when you’re running—you need to be able to take in as much oxygen as possible.

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For the sake of those around you, don’t eat onions or garlic before hitting the gym. They have their health benefits, but onions and garlic cause some nasty-smelling sweat, and when you exercise, you release extra sweat. protein powder in measuring scoop and chocolate protein bar on wooden background.

Low-quality protein bars

The protein must far outweigh the sugar to make these snacks worth it. Obviously, if you can find one that’s low in sugar, that’s great, but if you do find a sugar content of around 15 to 25 grams, make sure your protein content is at least 18 grams so you don’t face a blood sugar crash.

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Sports drinks

Don’t let their names fool you: sports drinks are high in sugar. All the electrolytes in the world won’t stop that sugar from causing a blood sugar crash later. Stick to coconut water—it’s low in sugar, and high in electrolytes. View of Roasted Soy Nuts in a Ceramic Bowl. Soy nuts are made from soybeans soaked in water drained and then baked or roasted. They can be used in place of nuts and are high in protein and dietary fiber. The image is a cut out isolated on a white


As we know, taking in tons of fiber before working out is only a recipe for cramps, bloating, and discomfort. So skip the burrito before the gym. While you’re at it, don’t have a hummus snack pre-workout.

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Avocados boast plenty of dietary benefits like healthy fats and fiber, but you should avoid any types of fats and fiber before hitting the gym to avoid gas and bloating. mix in a wooden plate


A handful of nuts might sound like a good idea pre-workout, because of the protein content. But nuts also contain fat and fiber, which, as we know, shouldn’t be consumed right before rigorous activity. Salad Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread

Whole grain bread

Whole grain bread is a great idea for those trying to lose weight because it digests slowly, but have it at least three hours before checking into your fitness center. The high fiber content will disrupt your workout.


Sunflower or pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin and sunflower seeds may also be your go-to, pre-gym snack because they’re portable and offer protein. But they are also high in fat and will cause bloating.

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Gel packs

Gel packs are really only good for serious athletes—like those working out several hours a day. If you only put in 30 to 45 minutes at the gym, these products just contain too much sugar to be worth it.


Deli meat

A few slices of deli turkey might give you a burst of protein, but they’ll also be high in sodium. Having lots of sodium ruins the fluid distribution in your body, which can leave you dehydrated during your workout. Of Beef Jerky

Beef jerky

Beef jerky is definitely portable and easy to toss in your gym back, but it causes the same issue as deli meat—but worse. Stick to fresh, lean, cooked meats if you want protein before your workout.

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