The 11 Worst Foods to Eat Before a Workout

Skip out on these foods before hitting the gym.

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Don't Eat This Before You Exercise

Choosing the right foods before exercise can make or break your workout. Getting some calories (aka ENERGY) in beforehand is non-negotiable, but the calories you consume should contain the proper balance of nutrients to allow for quick and comfortable digestion. While many of the foods we list here can be part of a healthy diet, they're not ideal for pre-workout fuel. Here's what to avoid before you head to the gym.


A juicy burger is actually a great way to replenish muscles and iron stores following a workout, but sinking your teeth in this slow-to-digest, high-protein food is not a good idea in the hours leading up to exercise.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower have been shown to have cancer-fighting properties, but these high-fiber vegetables take extra time to be digested. As a general rule, skip them before you hit the gym.


You probably guessed this one. The protein and healthy carbs in these legumes are no doubt healthy eats, but their composition allows them to ferment in the intestines, creating the potentially gaseous qualities that make them famous. Consume beans (this includes hummus) at least four hours before exercise or make them part of your post-workout meal.

Trail Mix

This munchable mixture of nuts, seeds and dried fruit is a perfect way to keep an afternoon energy slump at bay. However, the high-fat ingredients will sit in your stomach like a rock if not given ample time to break down. Best to eat this well-ahead (four-plus hours) before a workout, or save it for later.

Creamy Sauces

Sauces high in unhealthy fats can help spark inflammation, which there is already plenty of after exercise.


Nothing ruins a workout like a case of heartburn. Keep those gastric juices low key by avoiding this mixture of onions, tomatoes and chili peppers before your workout.


We love cheese for its calcium levels, but the high fat content can lead to some unpleasant GI woes during exercise. You may not have to avoid cheese all together. If you typically tolerate cheese without issues, opt for a small amount of low-fat cheese and give it at least two hours of lead time before your workout begins.

Sugar-Free Drinks

The artificial sweeteners used in many drinks, gums, protein powders and pre-workout beverages manage to cut the sugar and keep the calories low, but they also give some folks gas and bloating. Check ingredient lists and steer clear of ones that are bothersome.


It may seem like a good idea to hit up the vending machine before you knock out a workout, but many salty snacks are high in fat and won’t give you the energy you’re looking for. Lower-fat, higher-carb snacks like pretzels or dried fruit are better suited to give you the boost you need.

Whole Milk Yogurt

Healthy bacteria for gut health can help you reach your fitness goals, but shy away from the fat and protein in full-fat yogurt when exercise time is near. Protein-packed Greek yogurt is also better suited for post-workout recovery. Low-fat or non-fat yogurt can make for a better pre-workout option.

Anything Fried

Fried foods are another dangerous duo of high-fat and pro-inflammatory ingredients, which really should be avoided both before and after exercise. Enjoy your fried faves in moderation, and preferably on a day you don’t exercise.