Why Your Pre-Workout Smoothie Could Be A Bad Idea

A good workout can make you feel amazing, especially since exercise boosts those feel-good endorphins and dopamine neurotransmitters. To get the most out of your workout, don't head to the gym on an empty stomach, says the Mayo Clinic. You'll need to get some carbs in your body so you can work out hard and work out longer. After all, you don't want to cut short a great workout because you're starving.

How much you eat before a workout depends on when you decide to eat. Morning exercisers who have less than an hour before their workout could have some yogurt, a banana, or a sports drink. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a carb-rich fruit smoothie is also a good option to give you the energy you need. Having foods in liquid form is best just before a workout because they can be quickly processed by your stomach.

However, you'll have to be mindful of what's in your smoothie. Some smoothies can have too much protein, fiber, or sugar, which can cause gastrointestinal issues during your workout.

Avoid high protein, fiber, and sugar in smoothies

Even if you're trying to increase your protein intake to build or retain muscle, adding a scoop of protein powder to your smoothie will slow down your digestion. You'll need up to an hour for your stomach to digest the protein in your smoothie, according to Men's Health.

While fiber is an important part of a healthy diet, it won't sit well in your digestive system if you plan a hard workout. According to the American Council on Exercise, high-fiber fruits and vegetables in your smoothie might be better as a snack a little later. Although a medium banana has 3 grams of fiber, you can include one in your pre-workout smoothie. Healthy fats make a smoothie feel more filling, but ACE says to avoid too much fat in a pre-workout smoothie because it takes much longer for your body to convert that fat to energy.

The Mayo Clinic suggests avoiding too many calories before a workout. Even if you can burn 600 calories during your spin class, some pre-made smoothies can be high in calories and sugar. For example, Naked Superfood Machine has 270 calories and a whopping 54 grams of sugar. Meanwhile, Smoothie King's MangoFest smoothie has 300 calories and 66 grams of sugar.

Pre-workout smoothie ideas

Although a store-bought smoothie might be convenient, MedicineNet says that fresh smoothies made with some unsweetened yogurt are ideal for a pre-workout smoothie. Making your smoothie at home allows you to control how much sugar you put into your body. You can also add some kale for some vitamins A, B6, and K.

NASM suggests eating a gram of carbohydrate for each kilogram of body weight, which is about 68 grams for someone weighing 150 pounds. That might sound like a little much before your workout, but you can choose how much nutrition works best for you and your length and intensity of workout.

Here's a simple smoothie that's a little more than 200 calories with 47 grams of carbs and about 7 grams of protein. Blend a half cup of plain, fat-free yogurt with a medium banana and a cup of strawberries in cold water or unsweetened coconut water. Adding a 28-gram packet of plain oats will not only give your smoothie a little more bulk, but it will fill it out with 101 more calories, 19.5 grams of carbs, and about 3 grams of protein.