We’ve all been guilty of stuffing our body with fast food. Piles of things you need to do at work or at home tend to drive you away from healthy eating. Fast food may be the easiest and simplest way to eat, but the lack of nutrition is not doing you any good. As a matter of fact, it may do the opposite. If you care enough to spare some time for yoga practice, you should also put extra effort into choosing what you eat. The same applies to decide what to eat before yoga and also after.
The concept of eating before and after yoga is similar. Both are meant to fuel your body and optimize your workout results. That being said, what to eat before yoga is different from after. This is due to the different stages our body goes through.
Before yoga or any other workout, your body is on its relaxed or normal state. This is when you need to prepare for the activities ahead. On the other hand, after yoga, your blood flows faster and your body’s temperature rises. Whatever your body consumes will be digested and absorbed immediately. Let’s take a closer look at these two different processes and what you can consume to help optimize them!
What to eat before yoga
When it comes to eating before a workout, the most important thing to keep in mind is not to stuff yourself. You don’t want to walk into a yoga class feeling full. Besides compromising your performance, you’re risking throwing up. Even if you’re using a water-resistant mat such as Deluxe NBR Yoga Mat, the inconvenience is a big no-no. To avoid such unpleasant incidents, stick to the following rules:
1. Eat light
Whatever you decide to consume, make sure it’s not a full meal. Less than a half portion would be ideal. What food to eat ranges from fruit to healthy snacks. In fact, you can also eat carbs if you feel like it. Just make sure you don’t feel stuffed afterward.
2. Make fruits your first choice
Fruits are always a good healthy choice to fuel up before a workout. Some fresh slices of fruits are highly recommended. Or even better, just mix them as a smoothie. This way, you can also store it in a bottle and take it with you to your yoga practice. So convenient! That being said, you should avoid sugary fruits, let alone adding sugar into your smoothie mix. Something filling like banana, or refreshing like berries are recommended.
3. Avoid complex carbs
Even though consuming carbs before yoga is not restricted, we don’t recommend complex carbs. These include rice, bread, corn, or anything made of their flours. Besides containing a lot of sugar, complex carbs are hard to digest. Instead of focusing on working on your muscles, your body will be too busy breaking down this type of carb. As a result, you won’t be able to perform 100% during your yoga practice. Worse case is you’d feel sleepy throughout the entire class, instead of feeling energized. Don’t let yourself fall asleep on your Cork Yoga Mat! Eat only light carbs which you can get from some types of fruits and cereals.
4. No spicy food
We had several conversations before our class which involve the argument of eating spicy food before a workout. Some say it helps them stay awake and energized. The thing is, it does trigger the production of endorphins, which makes you feel happier instantly. But it can also make you feel bloated, even in a small amount.
5. A good balance of carbs, protein, and fat
To sum it up, the answer to “What to eat before yoga?” is anything good! The ideal composition will be a good balance between carbs, protein, and fat. In light amount, these three can be the perfect fuel you need to support your performance during a yoga class. They help you feel energized, which is always great for a workout.
6. Stay hydrated
Besides food, you should also incorporate water into your pre-workout meal. Keeping yourself hydrated is the key to a healthy metabolism. Your water intake is arguably more important than the meal itself. Without it, no matter how good your nutrition intake is, the result won’t be optimal. While water by itself is already good, we also recommend electrolytes. We’ll discuss this further on the “What to Eat Before and After Yoga” section below.
Now you know what to eat before yoga! However, there’s one question left unanswered. And this is as important for you to find out:
When to eat before yoga
Most of us digest what we eat in 2-4 hours, sometimes more. To avoid the feeling of hunger, which can be very distractive during any yoga session, we recommend you to eat 1-2 hours before practice. If you eat more than 2 hours before, chances are you’ll be hungry again by the time you’re on the mat. On the other hand, if you eat less than 1 hour before practice, your body won’t have enough time to digest everything. What’s the point of fueling your body when you won’t be able to use it?
The benefits of eating before yoga
Even though plenty of personal trainers suggest not consuming anything before a workout, other than water, exercising with an empty stomach is not practical. Especially in yoga, when you need to meditate and focus on yourself. Imagine having to concentrate as your stomach growls! There’s no way to achieve all benefits of Yoga Nidra, for instance, with a concerning thought of hunger. So, if you have to and want to eat before yoga, we fully support it!
With the right kind and amount of food, eating before yoga helps you perform better during a yoga class. This fuel is useful for intense yoga such as Ashtanga. Besides supporting your performance, it helps optimize your workout result. Maximize these benefits with the best post-workout nutrition. That brings us to the next question: “What to eat after yoga?”
What to eat after yoga
Right after a workout, your body is pumped. And it’s ready to absorb whatever you consume. Compared to any other meals, your post-workout meal is the most important. At this stage, your body is like a blank canvas. So, it’s up to you whether you want to paint strong healthy muscles or weak flabby body. We believe you’re one of the first. Let’s achieve that with the following rules:
1. Protein intake
The best thing you can give your body after a workout is a good amount of protein. This is the best to fuel up those muscles and bones. It’s highly recommended to consume protein immediately after working out. Since eating steamed chicken breast at the gym is not practical, we suggest you pack a bottle of protein shake before you go. As soon as the class is dismissed, go grab the bottle and drink your protein accordingly.
If you don’t like the taste of protein shake, mix it in a fruit smoothie of your choice. Banana-strawberries and milk have always been our favorite. It’s yummy and filling! If this is still not your cup of tea, you can always change it up with a protein bar instead.
2. Carbs up!
It’s time to forget the carbs myth and embrace this nutritious sustenance. That being said, we only recommend light carbs such as oats, beans, or brown rice at the least. Carbs also help our body absorb protein. Next time you’re going on a lunch or dinner after a workout, make sure to order some carbs on the side to enjoy with your salmon fillet.
3. Give your body some time to digest
After one full bottle of protein shake or a full meal at the restaurant, take some time to relax and let your body digest. Minimize your activities to a nice relaxing stroll at most. But don’t get too relaxed. We don’t recommend sleeping or even lying horizontally after eating.
4. Water, water, water
If food is the fuel, water is the oil your body needs to smooth all processes. Balance your water intake before and after yoga. Make sure to stay hydrated the entire time.
When to Eat After Yoga
Immediately! Prepare your protein shake before you practice. And keep the bottle close to you. Right after you finish, enjoy the refreshing nutritious beverage. As a matter of fact, if you can and have the chance, you can take a few sips in between classes too.
What to eat before and after yoga?
To help you plan your pre-yoga and post-yoga meals, we list a few things we recommend consuming. All of these provide the nutritional values you need to support your performance and optimize your workout result. Here are the answers to both “What to eat before yoga?” and “What to eat after yoga?”:
If we had to choose one fruit to eat our entire life, our choice would go to the banana. It’s delicious and so versatile. Not to mention all the nutrition it has to offer. It contains potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Fiber among many other things. It’s so good that you can survive by eating banana only. Mix one ripe banana with milk and vanilla or chocolate-flavored protein powder. You’ll get the yummiest protein shake of all!
The best part about incorporating nuts into your diet is the abundance of choice. You can have everything from peanuts to almonds to macadamia. Each offers its own nutritional values. Nuts are definitely the best healthy snacks before and after yoga.
Pure energy is what peanut butter offers you. And it’s so tasty too! Your four-legged buddies will definitely agree. Mix a spoon into your bowl of oats cereal.
It’s our favorite snacks to go! We always have one or two bars in our gym bag. It’s light and nutritious. The best part is that there are so many variants available. There’s always some for everyone! Our favorite contains dates, cornflakes, and peanut butter. The best combination of taste and instant energy!
We get that some meals can’t go with just cereal or beans. Sometimes, rice is the best option to go with. When that’s the case, go for brown rice. It’s lower in sugar and higher in fiber.
Mix it in your protein shake, breakfast cereal, or salad! This thick yogurt is so versatile, you can make it as your kitchen’s staple. Sometimes, we would use it as a healthier alternative to sour cream. Next time you go grocery shopping, make sure to put Greek yogurt on the list!
The best protein of all! Salmon has a distinctive taste no other fish does. Even though it’s originally from Norway, Salmon is widely consumed in Japan. Japanese knows how nutritious Salmon is. And we do too. We love eating them raw and fresh! Salmon Sashimi, everyone?
During each of your yoga sessions, especially hot yoga, your body is losing minerals through sweat. Prepare yourself by drinking electrolytes before, during, and after yoga. Some sports drinks already contain a good amount of electrolytes. However, if you don’t have any preferred product, you can try making one yourself. Mix around one teaspoon of sea salt in a half-liter of water and make sure it dissolves well before drinking it.
Oh yes. Who says healthy food is not tasty? As long as you eat it right, you can eat anything you want, including the indulging chocolate! Raw dark chocolate is the best option. But since it can be an acquired taste, you may start with chocolate milk. Less sugar, please!
Eat now, yoga later
Start your day by scheduling your yoga session. Then, make sure you have time to eat before practice. Keep in mind that it should be within the 1-2 hours window for maximum benefits. Once your schedule is set, it’s time to whip up in the kitchen. Make your own protein shake and pack some light snacks you’ll need later on. There are plenty of recipes you can follow. Speaking of which, we should share some of our own recipes too! Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you won’t miss our latest recommendations, including how to make some nutritious, yummy protein shake!