You are what you eat, right? We’ve all heard that a thousand times, and yet we still continue to snack on chips and candy before our allotted exercise time. Put down the Milky Way, and try subbing these powerfoods for your pre-mat munching:
Your body is 76% water, so it stands to reason that to perform at its best, it must be hydrated. When you’re dehydrated, you end up with cramps and poor flexibility. Your ability to process fresh oxygen and nutrients to your muscles is also inhibited. You should be drinking 91-125 ounces of water a day (depending on your gender), but fruits and veggies are a great way to get extra water in, as well, in addition to protein shakes or fruit smoothies. They will also keep you full and energized, and ready to go for your practice. Potassium also works with sodium to help keep your body properly hydrated.
Inflamed muscles and joints make life miserable. You feel the aches well after your class. It’s because of chronic inflammation that causes swelling, a form of unhealthy fluid retention that makes muscles sore and stiff. You can control this with what you eat, however, in terms of acidity or alkaline pH.
Take care of those tendons and ligaments! You’ll need certain amino acids, some of which, such as cysteine and methionine, contain sulfur. Eating foods that are rich in these amino acids or in sulfur-containing compounds promotes healthy and flexible joints. Eating high-sulfur foods (including garlic, onions and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and kale; egg yolks and red peppers also provide good amounts of sulfur) throughout your day can help prep you for class.
Foods to Avoid
Avoiding certain foods can have as big of an impact as eating the right foods! Particularly if you’re heading into a bikram class, make sure you stop drinking diuretics at least four hours before you begin (coffee, alcohol, the works). They will dehydrate you and you will not be loving the feeling in the middle of class. Make sure to stay away from acidic foods and processed carbs to prevent inflammation, heartburn, and potential digestive issues during class!
The Top 10 Foods for Yoga
Obviously, you don’t need to go scarfing all of these foods before your class, but you can vary it up from week to week and ensure your performance is at its peak!
- Protein shakes
It’s essential for strength training to ensure that you get the protein you require. You are breaking down your muscles and rebuilding them when you hold those poses that make you break out in a sweat! Make sure you have it at least 30-45 minutes prior to class, however, so that your stomach can process it in peace.
These are great alkaline fruits, and they are also full of water and fiber, making you feel fuller and stay hydrated longer. The natural sugar in them will give you a kick of energy, as well. Apples are a lovely source of vitamin C, as well, which will assist your immune system.
Another potassium winner, they actually won’t send you to the restroom, contrary to popular belief. Plus, they’re easy to take on the go.
A handful of plain, unsalted almonds are a great pre-yoga snack because of their healthy fats and energy-boosting ability. They are also filling, another plus. Almonds contain vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium.
Eat only about a half a cup of oatmeal (you don’t want to be overly full before you slide into boat pose!). Your body burns it easily, which translates to easy energy for you. It’s also another very fiberful food.
Pears are a low-acid, high-fiber fruit, which makes them a go-to selection for your pre-yoga snack.
Of course, when we say "Potassium," you most likely think of the banana. It’s also a great energizer, as it’s full of healthy sugar.
This is a similar story to pears. Dried or fresh, apricots contain natural sugars to help boost your energy, forgo the acidity of citrus fruits, which can sometimes cause heartburn during exercise.
- Greek yogurt
For those of you lucky enough to tolerate dairy, Greek yogurt is a fantastic option, as it’s full of slow-burning protein that will tide you over during class. It’s also reasonably low on calories and fat, and it’s very tasty with a teaspoon of honey drizzled over it, too!
- Fruit smoothies
This is probably one of the best snacks that will get you the most nutritional bang for your buck. It gives you your water and energy boost, and you can mix and match all the foods on this list to cover the other essential bases, as well. For example, to get the sulfur coverage, you can put in kale and make a green smoothie. Throw some pineapple in for the anti-inflammatory effects. Slice up a banana to get your cramps-preventing potassium.