What to eat and what NOT to eat before exercising

Fuelling your body for that gruelling martial arts or cheerleading session is essential. If you don’t have the right fuel in your tank you won’t have the energy to push yourself and achieve your fitness goals, and if you have the WRONG fuel – well, we’ve all been there on the basketball court or Zumba class and felt that mid workout crash hit us like a freight train and chances are it was because you ate the wrong thing before you started.

So today we’re going to look at 3 things you shouldn’t eat before a class and 3 things you should.

What not to eat before exercising

Working out on an empty stomach is not a good idea at all. If you starve yourself you simply won’t have any energy and will lose the ability to burn calories and maintain that concentration you need to really get through your workout. But steer clear of the following before breaking a sweat:

Fizzy drinks


Carbonated drinks will cause gas and bloating in almost anyone, and the last thing you need is a case of gas whilst you’re busting out a downward dog or going for that last 100 metres on the treadmill. Aside from the gas and discomfort side of things, carbonated drinks are packed full of sugar. In fact, 1 can of coke has 9 grams of sugar, which is around 9 teaspoons!  Energy drinks are just as bad for you as the sugar content is of a similar, if not worse amount. Although caffeine has proven to assist exercise regimes, an espresso, green or black tea is a better option.

Ready-made smoothies



Smoothies are a fantastic source of energy and can really help you reach your nutrition goals. We actually covered just how good they can be in a previous blog which you can read here. However, store-bought smoothies are usually pumped full of extra sugar, preservatives and all sorts of unhealthy added fats and other junk. Create your own using real fruit rather than juice and add a scoop of protein powder.

Rice cakes


These low-calorie rice cakes may help stave off cravings throughout the day if you’re on a diet, but they contain almost no nutritional value whatsoever. With the addition of flavoured rice cakes to the market, they now come with extra salt and sugar which of course helps them to taste better but doesn’t really help with your workout.

What to eat before exercising

Ideally you want to fuel your body with the 300-500 calories of healthy carbohydrates 2 hours before you exercise. However, if you don’t have time to eat a meal, a healthy snack of 50-100 calories 10 minutes before you exercise will give you the boost you need.



Bananas are a fantastic source of healthy fast acting carbohydrates that will give you the boost and fuel you need to survive that workout. However, you need to make sure that they’re ripe. Green bananas will cause uncomfortable gas and bloating. A banana with brown spots indicates it’s at the ripe stage and means the sugar content can be absorbed easily.




Oats are full of fibre and healthy carbohydrates that will release a steady supply of energy to get you through your workout. A bowl of oats with water or almond milk 2 hours before your routine will help give you the energy you need.

Dried nuts



If you haven’t had a chance to eat a full meal 2 hours before you exercise a handful of dried nuts will give you that instant energy boost without giving a sluggish “I need to lie down because I’m so full” feeling. Unsalted peanuts, almonds and cashews are a great option – aim for organic if you can.

A good nutrition plan is just as, if not more important as a good exercise regime. Make sure you’re loading up on the right foods before you workout and you’ll be on your way to your fitness goals in no time.

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