The last thing you want at the gym is an upset stomach, or to tire out 10 minutes in. Reach for the wrong snack and you could doom your workout. Eating foods that sit well and convert to energy efficiently is critical to exercise quality, especially for longer workouts. "Nothing messes up performance like gastrointestinal distress," says Katherine Beals, nutrition clinic director at the University of Utah. To avoid queasiness and hitting the wall, skip these 6 foods before a workout:
Last night's leftovers
Pasta, rice, and potatoes are great carbohydrate sources and tend to settle well for most people, but they're best eaten plain or with a tomato-based sauce, says Beals (one of 22 members of a panel assembled by U.S. News to rate the Best Diets). "I can't tell you the number of people who want to eat pasta [before exercise] and they'll eat a fettuccini alfredo that's really rich, or Indian food, and, boy, do they pay for it," she says. Cream sauces, seasonings, and spices are likely to upset your stomach or trigger heartburn once you start moving.
Potatoes may be good workout fuel, but that doesn't mean you should grab some French fries before the gym. Deep-fried fatty snacks will slow you down, says Manuel Villacorta, registered dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). Avoiding fast food before a workout might be a no-brainer, but even healthy high-fat snacks, like string cheese and almonds, can make you feel sluggish, he says. That's because fat is turned into energy much less efficiently than carbs and protein are. Furthermore, fatty foods commonly cause bloating, according to the Mayo Clinic, which no one wants when they're trying to exercise.