Despite their bad reputation, not all carbohydrates are the worst food in your diet. There are some good carbs in the family that will benefit you as a pre-workout bite to eat. Good carbs are a source of quick energy without adding fats, salts and a whole list of other despicable ingredients that do not belong to any food group.
Part of yoga training is learning to respect your body and treat it with gentleness. Being kind to your body sets the stage for a reciprocal gesture. Offer yourself food that provides healthy versions of nutrients and your body will respond by feeling good on the inside. This translates to a positive external expression. Building a constructive relationship between your inner self and your outer body is one of the gifts of yoga.
Where Does the Body Get its Energy?
Eating a high carbohydrate meal or snack before a yoga class or any other exercise is not going to make you feel good. Overloading your body with fats, sugars or salts will cause it to become engrossed with digestion which will lower your energy level.
Carbohydrates build up storage of quick energy inside the body. When you begin a workout, the brain sends the message that extra energy output is required; this energy comes from the stockpile of energy produced by carbohydrates. Stored energy is a by-product of good carbs that include whole grain-based food, cereals, nuts, fruit and vegetables.
Good Pre-Yoga Carbs
Deciding what to eat before yoga or exercise, should involve the same kind of careful thought you put into choosing the right kind of footwear for your sport. It is a balancing act between giving your body an available source from which it can draw energy without forcing it to shift its focus onto the digestion of food.
Practising yoga requires you to focus on stretching, breathing with your body and learning to relax. Training your mind to let go of worry and stress entails freeing your thoughts from any preoccupation with bodily functions. You don’t want to be hungry; yet, you don’t want to feel full. Eating smaller amounts at least an hour before class and keeping it light will give you energy without slowing you down to digest in the middle of your exercise.
The Science of a Pre-Workout Snack
While a bowl of cereal may be healthy, whole grains are hard to break down which slows the extraction of energy from them. Hard-to-breakdown carbohydrates can also cause bloating, gas and shift the focus from energy output to digestion. Eating whole-grain cereal the day before your workout gives your body a hoard of energy it can draw from the following day, but it isn’t the best choice of food right before a yoga class.
Grapes, pineapple, bananas, apple, a small handful of nuts, a few ounces of lean turkey, or a spoonful of peanut butter atop of a celery stick are good examples of quick energy carbohydrates you can eat before a workout. These foods are high in natural sugars and will give you the energy you need for class without bogging your system down. Adding a little protein will slow the natural sugar absorption and extend the energy flow evenly over the next hour.
Try it. Treat yourself with kindness. Start to put some good food into your body. You will have more energy to put into your exercise. You and yoga will enjoy a new experience and move forward with more ease toward a new, healthier you.