We all know that eating two to three hours before yoga is key to a strong practice.
But just as important as when we eat before yoga is what we eat. Even when we try to eat healthy, we could be sabotaging ourselves with food that, while great for us, is not great for yoga. Here are nine healthy foods to avoid before practicing:
Roasted Nuts and Flaxseeds
Though roasted nuts are a great snack due to their protein and fiber, too much fiber before yoga is a bad idea. High amounts of protein and fiber sit in your stomach, which can give you indigestion when you’re moving through postures and make you sluggish. The salt on the nuts is also dehydrating, which can disrupt the fluid balance required for optimal workouts. Similarly, while flaxseeds are great for your body in general, their high quantity of fiber can impede workouts by causing gas and bloating.
Hummus is an excellent post-workout snack due to its high protein levels, but bean-based foods are high in carbohydrates, which can cause gas and bloating during class. For that reason, it’s best to save the hummus for after class.
Power Bars and Fruit Juice
Power bars are, more often than not, loaded with simple sugars. Though a huge quick dose of sugar may temporarily boost your energy, over the course of your practice it will make you feel lethargic and sick. Another common example of simple though technically healthy sugars is fruit juice. Though it seems like a good idea since it’s hydrating, its lack of fiber and high sugar level will make it to go right through your digestive system and cause a blood sugar crash later.
Very Ripe Bananas
Bananas are suggested as a great pre-workout food across the Internet. This is, in part, because their potassium interacts with sodium to keep your body properly hydrated. The magnesium in bananas also mitigates cramps and bloating. But over-ripe bananas, especially ones showing some brown spots, have significantly more sugar than less-ripened bananas. While a green banana has a glycemic rank of 30, an older banana can have one as high as 70. High glycemic index foods cause our blood sugar level to spike, which leads to inconsistent energy throughout class. Other fruits to avoid pre-yoga include apricots, pineapple, mangoes, papaya and watermelon.
Rice probably shouldn’t even be on this list because, despite what many of us have been told and served over the years, it is not a health food. It has virtually no nutritional value and, though it is a grain, it has almost no fiber. Though high-fiber foods should be avoided right before class as discussed, small doses of fiber regulate the speed at which sugar is released into the blood stream, thereby stabilizing your blood sugar and energy.
Avocados and Yogurt
Even foods high in good fats, like avocados and yogurt, aren’t a great option before yoga. This is because high fat foods are difficult and slow to digest. In the process, they draw blood into the stomach to aid in digestion, which can lead to cramping and discomfort during class. Good fats are key to a well-balanced diet and should be consumed at regular intervals throughout the day; just try to avoid them two hours before yoga.
Of course, this list alone shouldn’t dictate your eating habits before yoga. John Schumacher, director of Unity Woods Yoga in Bethesda, Maryland, told Yoga Journal that, “if you find any eating system appealing, either Western or Eastern, try it out to see if it’s a good fit.” Ultimately your own body, not even the most sacred texts, is the best guide. When evaluating what’s working, remember that “Food should provide energy and clarity”, write Mary Taylor and Lynn Ginsburg for Yoga Journal. If you don’t consistently get these effects from your food, keep trying until you’re confident you’ve found the right food for your yoga and your body.
Author: Meera Watts
Editor: Caroline Beaton