My yoga instructor has warned me not to eat for two hours before my class, but when I find myself fantasizing about doughnuts during Downward Dog and worrying I won’t have the stamina for another breath in Warrior Two, I know I need a little bit of pre-workout sustenance. Something that’s portable, so I can throw it into my gym bag and nosh on the way, and something that has just the right combination of nutrients and ingredients to give me long-lasting energy and endurance. Oh, and if it can taste good too, then I’m sold!
Despite the warnings we’ve heard about not eating before exercising, it’s not so bad for you after all, since you should keep your energy input and output in balance throughout the day. The ideal pre-workout snack would have plenty of complex carbohydrates, which take longer to convert to glucose, allowing your body to burn them off slowly while keeping your blood sugar level constant. Protein is another important component, as it gives you staying power.
Avoid high levels of fat and fiber — you don’t want to get gas or any other embarrassing intestinal problems while you’re doing Sun Salutations. And, your snack also should be low in simple sugars — they’ll give you an initial power surge, but it won’t last much past that first lap around the park.
Some good — and portable — ideas for pre-workout snacks include fruit, a piece of whole-grain bread with almond or peanut butter, or a handful of trail mix, as long as it doesn’t contain sugary components like M&Ms.
Another obvious choice, particularly if you don’t have time in the kitchen to cut up carrot sticks or mix up a smoothie, is energy bars.
Some energy bars are better than others, and there are plenty of reports out there about which ones are best. For instance, MSN’s Health & Fitness editor says the best choices include the tried-and-true PowerBar, Luna Bars and Clif Bars, the Odwalla Bar and the BumbleBar. Health magazine picked Solo Bars, Balance Bars, ProBars and PowerBar’s Nut Natural Bars as good high-energy snacks to down before a workout.
When you’re standing in the health-foods aisle trying to decide among a dizzying array of brands and flavors, take a look at the nutritional and ingredient labels, avoiding hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and fat content over 7 grams. Instead, seek out bars containing whole grains, protein, at least three grams of fiber and a portion of the daily requirement of vitamins and minerals.
And don’t forget to hydrate!
Now that you’ve found the perfect pre-workout snack, find the perfect fitness workout on GaiamTV.com!