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Eating Habits To Avoid That Are Wrecking Your Workouts, Says Science

Stop inhibiting your performance by making these simple changes.
MEDICALLY REVIEWED Clipboard BY Cedrina Calder

Fueling your body with proper nutrition is not only important for ensuring that you crush your workout, but also so that you feel good afterward as well.

Below, we pinpoint five common eating habits that could be interfering with your ability to power through your favorite exercise routine—we even offer an easy solution for each! Then, don't miss Best Ways to Stay Fit in 2021, According to Celeb Trainers.

You're eating too close to your workout.

eating quickly

Research has indicated that the key to avoiding an abrupt trip to the bathroom while working out is to avoid eating large meals within two hours of exercise. In fact, it's best to save large meals for at least three to four hours before exercising to avoid any unwanted visits to the bathroom or feeling sluggish and in need of a nap.

Now, don't miss Chris Hemsworth's Exact Meal and Exercise Plan to Get into 'Thor' Shape.

You're not eating enough before your workout.

woman sweating and tired after exercising a workout

There's such a thing as not eating enough calories before engaging in rigorous exercise. If you've ever felt faint or weak while working out in the morning, it could be because you're trying to work too hard off of an empty stomach. If you're someone who exercises first thing in the morning before eating anything, you could feel lightheaded or not strong enough to complete your workout.

Consider eating a light breakfast or snack within an hour of exercising such as a piece of whole-grain toast with nut butter, a banana with nuts, or a small bowl of oatmeal. All of these foods can help keep your blood glucose (sugar) levels in check all while keeping you satiated so you can power through your run, bike ride, or HIIT workout—just to name a few great workouts!

You're eating too many sugary and processed foods.

holding stomach exercising

Regularly eating too many processed and sugary foods can wreak havoc on your energy levels in the immediate term. Over time, you could become at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and ultimately hinder your body's ability to keep blood sugar levels balanced. A 2020 study published in Nature Metabolism revealed that those who have poor blood sugar control have the weakest endurance. They also experienced high activation of proteins that inhibited the formation of healthy blood vessels in muscle tissue, which is key for transporting oxygen to muscles.

If you need help ditching the sugary, ultra-processed snacks, check out The Best & Worst Snacks in America in 2021—Ranked! for tips on which options to steer clear of.

You're not drinking enough water.

Close up image of a young mixed race girl busy drinking water from a fixed water fountain station with beautiful copy space

Dehydration can not only lead to weak performance while working out, but it can also cause many unfavorable side effects such as increased core body temperature, drop in blood pressure, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, and constipation. In more severe cases, you may even have to go to the hospital. To avoid this, try drinking three to eight fluid ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes while exercising.

You're drinking too much coffee before your workout.


Coffee is a stimulant, so it's great to have before a workout. However, too much of the beverage could cause you to cut your workout short, especially if you have a sensitivity to caffeine. Not to mention, it could lead to jitters or make your heart rate increase. To avoid this, try just one to two cups of coffee before a workout and make sure to eat something small with it.

For more, be sure to check out One Major Effect Coffee Has on Weight Loss, Dietitian Says.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the former news editor of Eat This, Not That! Read more about Cheyenne
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