Running is packed with lots of health benefits. However, your efforts can be counterproductive if you do not watch your eating habits. It is true that you need the energy to perform. The source of that energy is of utmost importance.
This is because different foods are digested in a different way. Poor choice of food can lead to abdominal disturbances and hurt your performance. Most successful and experienced runners know the foods they must avoid.
If you have recently joined the runner’s world then you need this information. You need to know the reasons why consuming certain foods can hurt your resolve to achieve fitness through running. It does not matter whether you are running to stay fit or to practice for an athletic competition.
We have talked to several dietitians and sports nutritionist on this topic. We have also consulted with fitness experts as well as experienced runners. They all agree that certain foods will reverse the gains you make. Such foods may also cut the gains you are likely to accrue.
Now we present you with 7 foods you should avoid before running. We also give you reasons why they are bad for you.
1. Foods With High-Fat Content
The energy content of fat is good. You may be tempted to include some tasty fried or greasy snack. Avoid all types of food with high-fat content.
The human body tends to digest fatty foods in a slow manner. So, it will seem like the food is sitting in your stomach. Such a feeling is not great when you are running. You will feel discomfort that will interfere with your performance.
Furthermore, fatty foods may have bad fat. Bad fat (also known as cholesterol) is the major cause of obesity and many health problems. If you are trying to achieve your fitness goals by running avoid consuming fatty foods.
This is true before running could hurt your efforts. Examples of foods with high-fat content that you must avoid are French fries and potato chips.
2. Refined Sugars
Sugar is the primary source of glycogen. Glycogen is the form of energy stored in your muscles and liver. It serves to replenish your energy expenditures.
Not all types of sugar are good for you before running. Avoid highly refined sugars. Such sugars have a high glycemic index (GI).
Low GI foods lead to a spike in performance 45 minutes after consumption. This is by the words of fitness experts. High GI foods need a lot of energy to metabolize. The energy will spike and fall rapidly. This will lead to fatigue.
The fatigue will definitely interfere with your performance. Examples of refined sugars to avoid include white bread, ice cream, and high sugar energy bars. Before your next run try quinoa or oatmeal.
Legumes are high fiber foods that all runners need. Not only do they aid in digestion but they stay longer in the stomach. They can help you maintain a healthy weight by limiting your dietary consumption. However, you must avoid them before you hit the road.
Problem is that legumes can lead to gastrointestinal distress and limit your performance. Consuming a lot of legumes can stimulate diarrhea, gas, and flatulence. Examples of legumes to avoid include lentils, beans, soybeans, tamarind, peanuts and mesquite and others.
4. Spicy Foods
Spicy foods can be very tempting even for the most dietary conscious people. You are not an exception. Yet, you must struggle to avoid them at all cost before a run.
Why should you avoid them yet spices can help detoxify your body? Well, most spices are acidic. Therefore, they have the tendency to stimulate hyperacidity.
This will result in heartburn. Also, remember that your body produces acetic acid as the waste product of glycogen. Acetic acid is the end product of glucose metabolism.
The net result is too much acidity in your body leading to muscle pain and heartburn. Such discomfort will interfere with your performance. Examples of spices to avoid are round onions, red pepper, chilies and more.
5. Protein Bars
The food industry is doing an excellent job. They provide fitness enthusiasts with high energy food to boost their strength. Such foods also improve their endurance. Protein bars provide excellent energy for endurance exercises (weightlifting).
But, you have to avoid them before you hit the trail. The refined sugar content of protein bars is high. This may leave you fatigued in the middle of your running session.
A good advice is to avoid the commercial protein bars and make your very own homemade snack. This way, you can pick high protein components that have low sugar content. Manufacturers of protein bars do not give accurate information on ingredients they use.
By making your own protein bar, you will know what is in it. A good example is homemade granola bars. Try to achieve half part sugar and half part fat. To simplify, let sugar and fat ratio be 50-50. If you do not know what to constitute then you can speak with an experienced runner.
6. Green Leafy Vegetables
A diet full of salads and fresh vegetables is great for overall health and fitness. Consuming them is necessary since they are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are also great sources of antioxidants.
While you can consume them for their health benefits, avoid them just before running. Eating them before running can lead to serious abdominal discomfort.
Their high fiber content will cause stomach upset. It will also lead to bloating and flatulence. Culprits are broccoli, kales, and spinach. If you feel like munching something green, go for something light.
Examples light vegetables to eat before running include green smoothie. Simply mix your favorite fruit with water, half cup of greens, and granola or dried oats.
7. Sports Drinks Or Energy Drinks
It is always coming to see runners in television with a bottle of some drink sipping as they run. The bottle is that of energy drink or sports drink. We both agree that it looks stylish and “sportish”. However, such drinks are always rich in energy in the form of high GI sugar.
These sports (energy) drinks will give you a quick burst of energy. Your energy levels will then drop fast leaving you exhausted and fatigued. The drink will instead hamper your performance. You will not achieve anything by consuming energy drink while running.
On the contrary, I would advise you to carry with you a bottle of water. Water is much healthier. Often people lose water when running through perspiration.
By replacing sports drink with water, you will replace any water you lose. This will give you even more energy to achieve your fitness goals.
If you have made a choice to run, then you are on the right track to achieving full cardio fitness. However, you must do everything possible to achieve the best out of your running. Certain decisions can make running counterproductive.
Now you know the foods you should avoid before running. Carry out research on the best types of foods that you need to eat just before running. Do not trust food manufacturers and promoters. What they call healthy may not be healthy at all. If you must become a successful runner, you must watch what you eat. In case of any confusion, speak with a dietitian or a sports nutritionist.