The sneakers are on, the exercise playlist is loaded, and you’ve carefully steered clear of all the bad pre-gym foods. Now what?
Before you fill your water bottle with Gatorade (or worse) familiarize yourself with the top 5 worst things to drink before working out.
Milk-Based Energy Drinks
Will was right: milk is a bad choice. “Dairy-containing beverages are better to consume post-workout as opposed to before or during,” says Angela Onsgard, R.D., resident nutritionist at Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona. Milk is high in protein, carbs, and fat, which makes it harder to digest (and that definitely won’t feel pleasant when you’re struggling through plyometrics). Use whey protein instead if you’re looking for a boost – you’ll still get the protein, but you’ll skip the fat and the longer digestion time.
Sugary Fruit Drinks
High-sugar fruit drinks are never a good choice for your diet. They’re loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, which has been shown to “initiate liver dysfunction, metabolic syndrome, and obesity,” says Onsgard. If you’re still craving that fruity flavour, add berries or fresh citrus fruits to your water bottle. Coconut water is another option, with the added bonus of replenishing the electrolytes you’ll lose during your sweat sesh.
It’s pretty obvious that you shouldn’t down Jägerbombs just before hitting the treadmill, but even indulging in alcohol hours before your exercise isn’t good. “Alcohol is dehydrating, inflammatory, and negatively impacts balance and decision-making,” says Onsgard. You’ll regret it when you miscalculate how much you can bench press. A healthier pre-gym pick-me-up is coffee (preferably a darker roast with less caffeine), which can increase alertness and improve performance.
It’s not just soda that should be shunned. While its high sugar content is obviously detrimental to your health, any fizzy drink can cause problems if consumed before a workout. Carbonated beverages can cause bloating, abdominal pain, gas, and dehydration – none of which will make your grueling six pack routine any easier. Onsgard recommends sipping on iced green tea instead, which is naturally high in antioxidants and may reduce the risk of several kinds of cancer.
Yes, ‘sports’ is in the name, but that doesn’t mean Gatorade is a wise choice as a pre-workout refreshment. Most sports drinks score high on sugar content and low on actual nutrition. “You might get some added vitamins and electrolytes from some brands on the market, but the high sugar content goes right through your system to cause an energy crash later on,” says Onsgard. “It can wreak havoc on your hormonal system and is a strain for your body to process, on top of the repairing requirements that follow a workout.” A better bet is additive-free tomato juice, which provides potassium and promotes healthy blood pressure.