Contrary to popular belief, it is perfectly acceptable to eat before heading to yoga. In fact, it’s preferable to have something in your stomach to keep your energy levels high and support muscle growth. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with a growling stomach midway through your asanas, and your body will start tapping into other reserves for strength, mainly existing muscle. The key is to know what to eat.
Certain foods will help you perform better than others, and it’s usually best to have a larger meal three hours before class, or a snack one hour before. It all depends on your schedule and how much food you need to keep you going. Here are some snacks that are great for any time of day and won’t weigh you down:
Bananas have long been praised for their rich stores of potassium and magnesium, which can help prevent muscle cramping during your workout. They also contain more sugar than most fruits, but this slow-moving sugar coupled with electrolytes will keep you perky throughout your class instead of putting you through the usual sugar crash that energy drink and bars do. In addition, the antioxidants that are particularly plentiful in overripe bananas fight free radicals, which are by-products of oxygen metabolization and appear in higher numbers during and after exercise. Even though our bodies naturally create free radicals, they have the potential to damage and mutate cells.
Avocados are super beneficial. Not only do they taste amazing (guacamole, anyone?), they are full of nutrients like Vitamin K, C, B, and E as well as folate, which encourages cell and tissue growth. They also contain even more potassium than bananas, which as you will remember are known for their abundance of this mineral. They also help you feel full for longer, reducing hunger distractions during class.
As mentioned earlier, free radicals are the by-product of oxygen metabolization, which happens at an increased rate during exercise. It is also known as oxidative stress, which increases the signs of aging and can lead to cancer by damaging molecules in the cells. Almonds are high in antioxidants, the free radical fighters. They also provide the same fullness feeling as avocados.
Popular as a pre-workout meal, smoothies are easy to digest, easy to bring on the go, and can be packed with powerful nutrients depending on the ingredients used. For the best possible smoothie, make your own and stick to 4 main ingredient categories;
- 1 green
- 1 carbohydrate
- 1 fat
- 1-2 cups of liquid
An example would be kale (green), any fruit (carbohydrate), chia seeds (fat), and almond milk (liquid).
- Greek Yogurt
Protein and calcium are essential for building muscles, cartilage, and bone. Greek yogurt is a great source of both. You can eat it either before or after a workout; if you eat it after, the protein can help regenerate muscle tissue, which is how you build new muscle. Greek yogurt also contains probiotics, which keep your gut healthy and have been shown to reduce bloating and intestinal discomfort.