Food+Thought: 5 Exercise Fueling Mistakes to Avoid

Posted by Nutrition Strategy on 6/13/19
Nutrition Strategy

Whether you’re running to lose weight, going to fitness classes to have a healthier heart or somewhere in between, pinning down a nutrition strategy can take some planning. Here are some pre-workout fueling mistakes to avoid.

Eating too much pre-workout

Your main goals before a workout are to stay hydrated and have enough fuel for the workout but you don’t generally need a lot – around 200 calories for a typical moderate- to high-intensity hour workout. Especially if you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight, incorporating the pre-workout fuel into a meal or splitting a meal to eat half before and half after can help prevent from overconsuming calories.

Eating very high-fiber or high-fat before a workout

Beans and legumes, like other high fiber foods are some of the healthiest foods you can eat, however they can cause unwanted gastrointestinal symptoms, like bloating and gas. Some people are fine – but if you’re unsure, avoid the vegetarian chili until after the workout.

Higher fat foods like avocados and nut butters take more time to digest which helps to keep us satiated longer. But they may leave you feeling sluggish. A little is generally fine but it may be best to not eat an entire avocado before a run.

Trying something new

Trying new foods is always recommended – just not before exercising. It’s best to stick with pre-exercise food that the body is used to so you won’t have unexpected side effects and your body can function at its best. After workout or at a different time in the day? Definitely!

Filling up on sports drinks

For most exercise under an hour, water is sufficient. If it is a very hot day or if you sweat a lot, then sports drinks will help. If you are exercising longer than an hour then you will likely benefit from a sports drink. Bringing it with you is a great idea if you’re unsure. But remember, you don’t have to drink it at full strength and for most exercise, rehydrating with water is all you need.

So what should you do?

Aim for a mix of carbohydrates, protein and a touch of fat, like a small tortilla with peanut butter and banana slices or a fruit and yogurt smoothie. Regardless of what sounds most delicious and nutritious to you, just make sure you eat something before you exercise so your muscles have energy and so you don’t overdo it at the next meal.

Quinoa Apricot & Almond Breakfast Bowl

An energizing breakfast to fuel your workout


1 cup cooked quinoa

1 apricot, stone removed and cut into 6 wedges

1 ½ teaspoons honey

1 ½ cup unsweetened almond milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cinnamon stick

1/3 cup dried, diced apricots

2 Tbsp sliced almonds, toasted


1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.

2. Toss apricot wedges in a medium bowl and toss with honey to macerate for 30 minutes (longer if apricots are under ripe).

3. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine water and sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.

4. Place cooked quinoa, almond milk, spices, and vanilla in a saucepot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 7-10 mins.

5. Remove cinnamon stick and fold in diced apricots.

6. To serve, scoop 1 cup of quinoa mixture into bowl and top with 1 tbsp of toasted almonds and 3 macerated apricot wedges.

Topics: Nutrition (Food), Health & Human Performance (Holistic), guckenheimer, Nutrition, Recipe, Registered Dietitian, food+thought

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