The sole purpose of yoga practice is to bring harmony between mind and body, and the end result depends on several factors. One of the top questions in relation to this activity is what to eat before yoga sessions. At face value, this is a simple question, but it can be a bit complicated when you give it some thought. When done right, yoga becomes an important element of a healthy life, which is why you don’t want to get even simple things such as the before-and-after diet wrong.
Just like any other activity, your body requires refuelling after yoga. The foods you eat before the practice will determine the difference between a blissed-out experience, and the unwanted feeling like you have something heavy in your stomach weighing you down as you do your asana. In order to do this right, you must take into consideration the type of food to eat, what time to eat before yoga and the amount of food. Of course, what works best for one individual may indeed be disastrous for another, but the general guidelines remain the same.
Digestion And Yoga
- One’s digestion varies between individuals. The best way one can build maximum energy is by eating healthy, ideally a balanced meal about two or three hours before yoga practice. This gives your body the opportunity to be nourished and your stomach to be empty. If the yoga session is scheduled for morning hours, give yourself a minimum of 30 minutes for the food to be digested before the practice begins (8).
- You may be trying to live a healthy lifestyle, and this may include eating raw vegetables, fruits and whole grains. As much as they are delicious and healthy, their fibre content takes a lot of energy to break down and assimilate. Avoid such foods before yoga because the twists and turns in yoga will disrupt the digestion process, causing gas and bloating.
- Listen to your body because your experience tells you what works best for your body.
General Guidelines On What To Eat Before Yoga Class
Practice On An Empty Stomach
Practising yoga with a full stomach may result in a stomachache, gurgling, bloating and embarrassing gas. The general rule for most practitioners is that there is no eating two hours before class. This gets rid of painful digestive problems. What you eat before class should be a small portion of a meal made with whole foods. These could be some soup, a salad or even vegetables (3).
Avoid eating meat or any heavy, slow-digesting foods that will cause indigestion. Other foods to avoid before a workout are high-fibre vegetables, beans and bran. In place of those, take something plain and one that will not leave a taste lingering in your mouth (4).
Eat A Smart Snack
With time, you will be more familiar with how your body responds to your eating schedule for yoga before or after workout sessions; and so you can modify your routine. If for instance, you find yourself feeling hungry and light-headed during a session, you may want to add a snack about a half-hour to an hour before the start of the session. Consider eating something to curb your appetite and at the same time, providing lasting energy.
Some examples of snacks to eat include a handful of almonds, oatmeal or quinoa. When it comes to eating before hot yoga, note that oats and yoga tend to go together. Chia pudding and avocado are also easy on the stomach. You can also choose fruits such as an apple, banana, pear or dried fruit some minutes before practice.
Develop A Morning Routine
Most people recommend doing yoga practice first thing in the morning before you eat a meal. When it comes to what to eat before yoga in the morning, extra planning is crucial to establish a routine. The night before you ought to eat a light meal that is easy to digest like a salad or a crockpot meal that was marinated overnight. In addition to being small, the meal should be supplementary to your lunch, which ought to be your largest meal of the day (7).
Try to eat as early as 6 p.m. to have ample time to digest your food and be settled to sleep early. This could be the perfect time to go for a walk or do house chores. You can also consider stretching after eating. The first thing you will have the following morning is a full bowel movement. If that is not the case, drink one or two glasses of water to hydrate.
Before the morning yoga session, eat something small for breakfast like oatmeal or a smoothie. This will enable you to feel grounded and refreshed for the rest of the day. Later on, you can have a heavy lunch, knowing it will not affect your yoga experience.
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Drinking smoothies is an efficient way of consuming healthy foods both before and after yoga. Apart from being convenient, smoothies are also simple and save you the time and stress of having to prepare a full meal. All you have to do is prepare your ingredients and blend them.
When preparing smoothies, use leafy greens, fruits and some protein and liquid. A good example is a smoothie with a spoonful of greens powder, spinach, raw nuts, protein powder, coconut water and frozen fruit (4).
Hydrate And Rehydrate
You need to hydrate before yoga and rehydrate after to replenish your body. Drinking a lot of water will help you avoid soreness, cramping and dehydration. If you are practising hot yoga, then you might want to rehydrate even more because you lose a lot of water through sweat. Drink a minimum of about five to six glasses of water daily. Infuse your water with cucumbers, lemons or limes to add flavour and nutrients (2).
Examples Of Pre-Yoga Meal Ideas
What would be considered as good food to eat before hot yoga? Below are some ideas of the foods that you can eat before class:
Banana + Almond Butter + Greens
The purpose of this combination is to power you through yoga practice. Eating bananas before workout is good because they have carbohydrates and B-vitamin content that provide a quick hit of energy. Almonds slow sugar release from bananas into the bloodstream. Greens provide nutrients and minerals that make the meal balanced (7).
Make juice from freshly pressed greens and add something like a green apple or an orange. This will make you feel light and ready to bend and twist and at the same time, giving you a bit of energy.
Sprouted Roast And Avocado
Sometimes, you may want something heavy so that you avoid hunger pangs and still be able to digest quickly. Sprouted toast and avocado provide complex carbohydrate content and healthy fats that won’t give you any problems with digestion.
One benefit of dark chocolate is that it may help prevent insulin resistance as well as increasing the flow of blood to your brain. It also tends to boost concentration and the ability to focus (6).
What Not To Eat Before Yoga
Stay away from things that induce gas because it can be embarrassing. Yoga involves deep twists and bends which are likely to cause gas and bloating. Some of the things to avoid are:
- Smoothies: While most people find it okay to drink smoothies before yoga, others become uncomfortable as a result of the excess liquid sloshes around in their stomach. If your yoga poses put pressure on the abdomen, then you might want to leave the smoothie for later.
- Garlicky foods: Just like smoothies, some people can tolerate garlic-laced foods while others can’t. The resultant garlic burps will be unpleasant for you and the people around you during yoga (1).
- Hard-boiled eggs: Despite being a complete protein and easy to prepare, hard-boiled eggs can ruin yoga for you and the people around you. They can give you sour burps which are unpleasant; hence it is better to avoid them.
- Greasy or fried foods: Steer clear of anything heavy before your yoga workout. This means having greasy/fried foods like fries and burgers is not a good idea.
The thrill of starting yoga practice is that at the end of it, you will be relaxed and with a mind that is healthier than it was before. That said, getting to decide what to eat before yoga practise is a highly personal decision. What works for one person may not work for another, but the general principles involving the selection process are similar.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Can you have a garlic allergy? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Drink Up for Sports and Fitness (2004, webmd.com)
- Gas, Bloating: Always Uncomfortable? (2002, webmd.com)
- Green Smoothies: Are They Good for You? (2020, webmd.com)
- Top 10 Sources of Fiber (2005, webmd.com)
- What are the health benefits of dark chocolate? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What to Eat Before and After a Workout (2019, webmd.com)
- Yoga – Benefits Beyond the Mat (2015, health.harvard.edu)
- Your guide to physical activity and your heart (2006, nhlbi.nih.gov)