Exercising is great for everyone, but not everyone knows how to prepare for their workout. Eating the wrong foods before your workout, or even trying to run on empty, can be harmful. According to Jim White, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, doing either of these can cause you to be lethargic, and can cause cramps. Listed below are some of the 5 worst pre-workout mistakes that many men and women can make, and how to avoid them.
The first common mistake is giving yourself a sugar high before working out. Everyone has faced an energy crash some time or another; most of the time we run to something sweet as the remedy for that afternoon boost, thinking that it will help us get through the rest of the day. We’re actually doing the complete opposite of what we should be doing. Those delicious sweets are loaded with refined carbohydrates that will spike your blood sugar, causing that inevitable crash right in the middle of your workout.
The second common mistake made by many is eating fast food. Even though these meals are quick and convenient, they are high in fat. After you’ve eaten the meal, you feel guilty and feel the need to work it off quickly. The problem is that foods like these can take up to four hours to digest. During those four hours, all of your blood is working to help your stomach digest this brick that you have dumped in it, meaning that the rest of your body, such as your muscles, are left defenseless during your workout.
As mentioned before, working on an empty stomach is another no-go, as doing this can make you feel twice as tired, twice as fast. Many people think that if they don’t eat, they can burn off calories faster; this is so far from the truth. When you don’t eat, you starve your body of the essential nutrients that it needs. Doing so during your workout leaves your body deprived of glycogen, which causes you to tire more easily. The smallest piece of fruit, or even a cup of yogurt, will give your body that much needed boost to get through your entire workout.
Another big misconception revolves around energy drinks. There has been some research to prove that energy drinks do provide enough caffeine to rev you up before a workout, however, the problem is that these concoctions contain even high amounts of sugar, which can cause that dreaded crash during your workout. In addition to ruining your workout, energy drinks also mess with your sleeping habits, and a good night’s rest also plays an important role in physical fitness.
Last, but certainly not least, is the most famous mistake that people, especially men, make right before their workout. The raw egg cocktail, made famous by Rocky (a.k.a Sylvester Stallone), has to be one of the worst workout tips, seeing how it can cause salmonella. The taste alone should be enough to ward off anyone, but there will always be those who think that the movies are real. Even though the cocktail can provide a good boost of protein, there are many other ways to get that same boost; most of them are better tasting, too. Fruit paired with Greek yogurt, or even a simple shake prior to working out can give you the same energy boost, but in a much more appealing manner.