What do you eat before you practice? This question can actually become a little more convoluted than it would appear at first glance. Fueling your yoga practice properly can mean the difference between a blissed out experience, or feeling like you have a brick in your gut weighing you down during your asana.
Eating the wrong type, amount, or combination of foods before a practice can make you feel like running to the toilet – if you get my drift. To help you avoid and reverse peristalsis action, here are my top 5 pre-yoga snacks/meals:
1. Banana + almond butter + greens
This is an ideal combination to power you through a good sweaty Vinyasa practice. The banana is going to give you a quick hit of energy, due to its carbohydrate and B-vitamin content. The almond butter will slow the release of those sugars from the banana into your bloodstream, giving you some sustained energy so that you are not flying high during the first 30 minutes of your flow, only to crash 20 minutes before Savasana.
I have thrown the greens in there because I feel that the minerals they provide help to balance this meal so that you feel grounded and steady. Try to finish this meal at least 30 minutes before you hit the mat for best results.
2. Simple Smoothie
Smoothies are a very popular pre-workout meal, and for good reason. They are fast, ‘can’ be easy to digest and a great if you are on the go! The problem with smoothies is that it is really tempting to get a little heavy handed with the number of ingredients. It is easy to get into the mindset of ‘more is better’ with smoothies, leaving you with a hemp-chia-maca-cacao-almond milk – coconut – kale – banana – date- mango (you get the picture) smoothie.
This may seem like a great idea, but in fact it is pretty tough on your digestion to process all of those ingredients at one time, especially if you are going to be engaging in physical activity shortly after. My suggestion is to stick with 3-4 ingredients or less in your smoothies, and make those ingredients count! I like a simple formula that goes something like this:
- 1 Green thing (leafy greens, celery, cucumber, herbs etc.)
- 1 Carbohydrate (Fruit is a great staple, but I have seen other things like oats used)
- 1 Fat (1 tbsp of chia seeds, 1 tbsp of hemp seeds, 1 tbsp nut butter of ½-1 avocado all work)
- 1 -2 cups liquid of choice (water, coconut water, almond milk, etc.)
After that, it can tend to get a little muddled. Stick with simple and you will feel your best. This formula will ensure a steady release of blood sugar, with no spikes or crashes. Try to finish your smoothie 20 minutes before your class.
3. Green Juice
Green juice is my favorite pre-yoga snack. A juice made from freshly pressed greens, and perhaps a little green apple or orange will not only leave you feeling light and ready to bend and twist, it will also give you a hit of energy because it will be oxygenating your cells!
While green juices don’t contain very many calories (calories are energy, not something to fear!) they do contain a plethora of vital nutrients. The chlorophyll in your green juice is going to help elevate the rate at which your cells receive oxygen and nutrients, and expel wastes — giving you a boost of energy. You can drink your juice all the way up to the start of your class and feel great.
4. Sprouted Toast and Avocado
If you are looking for something heavier to help you avoid hunger pangs during class that won’t digest like a brick, then this snack is for you. The complex carbohydrate content of the sprouted grain bread, paired with the fats in the avocado, will digest more slowly than any of the above-mentioned snacks.
This means that you are much less likely to have a grumbly stomach in Savasana if you tend to have a faster paced metabolism. Sprinkle a little salt or lemon juice on this snack and you will have a tasty treat that leaves you feeling ready to ‘Om.’ You may just want to finish this snack about 45 minutes before class.
Ok, before you freak out, hear me out. Technically speaking, it is very traditional to practice on an empty stomach. This is usually done if you are doing your practice first thing in the morning.
If you have never tried to practice without food in your belly, I do encourage you to give it a try! It does create an environment where there is more room in your abdominal cavity for deeper breathing, and you may even find that you have a deeper meditation after your practice.
Again, go slow with this one – if you know you are prone to blood sugar imbalance issues, this may not be the best option for you. But if you have generally stable blood sugar, give this a go!
What is your favorite snack before getting on the mat? Have you ever eaten something that you really wish you hadn’t before class? Tell me your stories!