7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

May 2, 2014

Must See Nutrition Videos

Fueling up before a game, practice or workout can take your performance to the next level, provided you’re loading the right stuff onto your plate. Chow down on the wrong stuff, however, and your best-laid plans could go to waste. Trust us, the last thing you want to do is head to the bathroom between wind sprints. There's no need for trial and error—here, with the help of leading sports nutritionists, we've rounded up seven  foods that are ruining your workouts.

Salad

The poster child for a healthy meal, "a salad is healthy, but not the best choice before a workout,” says Erica Giovinazzo, RD and a coach at Brick CrossFit in New York. “All those veggies are high in fiber, and fiber slows down digestion. This could lead to bloating and gas during your workout.”

RELATED: 7 Ways Your Salad Is Making You Fat

Hot Sauces and Spices

Sprinting down the sideline is hard enough, but add a few teaspoons of Tabasco to your stomach and it’ll be darn near impossible to finish without tossing your lunch. “Many athletes report that spicy foods can cause heartburn or that the food will ‘talk back’ if consumed right before a workout,” says Pam Nisevich, MS, RD. “Avoid hot sauces, spicy curries and other fragrant, highly seasoned foods right before [a workout or game].”

Fried Foods

Fried foods are generally tough on the stomach, but they can be especially detrimental before exercise. “High fat items like fried food take longer to digest, so you're likely to feel weighed down and sluggish if you eat these foods right before a workout,” says Nisevich. “Also, fat relaxes the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus which can mean heartburn during the workout.”

“[Other] examples of foods high in fat and low in carbs include chips, cookies and pizza,” adds Joy Dubost, RD.

RELATED: The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

Candy

You might think a jolt of sugar before a game might help you blitz past defenders, but Tara Ostrowe, RD, team sports nutritionist for the New York Giants, suggests otherwise. “Avoid anything high in sugar content before a workout or game,” she advises. “Sugar will spike your insulin levels and will cause your body to be in storage mode instead of helping your body utilize the energy for the workout. High sugar intake can also lead to gastrointestinal distress and cramping during the workout.”

Creamy Foods and Sauces

If you know it’s going to “sit in your stomach” for a few hours after you’ve eaten, you definitely don’t want to chow down on it before exercise. “Cream-based foods and sauces can cause gastrointestinal distress such as bloating and heartburn,” Ostrowe says. “High fat foods will slow you down and prevent optimal performance, since blood, oxygen and energy will now be shared with your digestive organs instead of solely your muscles.”

Burgers

A slab of fatty meat is not a good bet for athletes, and it’s even worse if you’re priming yourself for performance. “Even though the protein is great, a burger is high in fat, and fat can take a few hours to digest,” Giovinazzo says. "High fat foods, even if they're very healthy choices like avocado, can stay in your system for awhile, making you feel nauseous during your workout.”

RELATED: Boost Iron and Build a Better Burger

Whole Grains

Whole grains are another choice that athletes usually feel comfortable about loading onto their plates, but should avoid before exercise. “Right before working out is not a good time to consume [fiber],” says Nisevich. “That's because fiber acts as a broom in the GI tract, and too much of a good thing can wreck havoc on intense workouts. You can eat whole grains and high fiber cereals throughout the day—just not in the hours leading up to a workout!”

Sam DeHority
- Sam DeHority is an Associate Editor at STACK Media. He was previously a member of the editorial staffs at 'Men’s Fitness' and 'Muscle & Fitness,'...
Sam DeHority
- Sam DeHority is an Associate Editor at STACK Media. He was previously a member of the editorial staffs at 'Men’s Fitness' and 'Muscle & Fitness,'...
Must See
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,226,606
How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert
Views: 85,152
Dashon Goldson: Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 5,108,955

Featured Videos

Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Views: 20,496
Greg Nixon's Full-Body Dumbbell Circuit Greg Nixon's Full-Body Dumbbell Circuit Views: 317,829
SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of Views: 58,814
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 6,105,983
Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach
Views: 8,690,942
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,919,972
Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,938
Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose
Views: 3,539,467

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

Why You Need Dietary Fiberand Where to Get It

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

The Boston Cannons' Keep It Real Eating Plan

The Boston Cannons'

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

Why You Should Always Say No to Diet Foods

Why You Should Always Say No to Diet Foods

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

The Case for Red Meat

The Case for Red Meat

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

YardBarker