When You Should Eat Before Yoga

Organic Apples and Peanut Butter
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Bending and twisting into yoga poses can be uncomfortable—and even nauseating—with a big meal sloshing around in your belly. But that doesn’t mean you need to come to the mat with a completely empty stomach. You'll want to go to class with a good amount of energy and without the distraction of hunger. 

As with most things yoga related, you know your body best and should let it lead the way. With just a little bit of planning, and some trial and error, you can figure out what's best for you.

When Should You Eat?

Eating something very light an hour before class works well for most people, but your body may vary. If you're hungry and running to a class straight from work or are on a tight schedule, eating a few quick mouthfuls of a little protein or light carbohydrates is better than eating nothing and not having the energy to get through the class. 

Afterward, it is fine to eat whatever you’d like. However, after paying attention to your body in class, you may feel like keeping it light and nutritious. Yoga tends to inspire people to take better care of themselves and eat healthier, which is one of the ways yoga can help you lose weight.

Some traditions, particularly those that advocate early morning practice (like Ashtanga) advise that you do your asanas on a completely empty stomach. B.K.S. Iyengar, in his classic book "Light on Yoga," writes that if this is difficult for you, you can have coffee, cocoa, or milk before your session.

What to Eat

Healthy plant-based nibbles can be an ideal snack before yoga. These options are likely to sit well in your stomach and give you the energy to carry you through your session.

Fruit and Protein

A piece of high-fiber fruit plus protein, like an apple with nut butter, is a good go-to. A bowl of berries with a little yogurt is another option.

Nuts

A handful of almonds or any of your favorite nuts will provide a good mix of protein and fat, with a tiny bit of carbohydrate to help power you through your time on the mat.

Sports Bars

Any high-fiber, high-protein, and low-sugar energy bar you like can be a good choice. Some people find that eating only half a bar gives them the energy they need.

Grains

Small portions of oatmeal or other cooked grains may also be a good choice for maintaining energy without feeling too full for a workout.

It is also important to stay hydrated during yoga. Consider drinking about 16 to 20 ounces of water about 4 hours before class.

What Not to Eat

The deep twists and forward bends you do in yoga are likely to force out burps and farts, so it's best to steer clear of foods that induce gas.

Greasy or Fried Foods

You'll want to avoid anything heavy before a yoga workout, so a burger and fries before class is probably not a good idea.

Hard-Boiled Eggs

While hard-boiled eggs are a convenient and complete protein, many people find they can give them sour burps, especially during yoga.

Garlicky Foods

Some people can tolerate garlic-laced foods like hummus before yoga, but garlic burps aren't a pleasant experience for you or other people around you.

Smoothies 

While some people swear by pre-yoga smoothies, others find the excess liquid sloshes around in their stomach uncomfortably. This is particularly true during poses where there is pressure on your abdomen like Locust Pose. It may be better to save the smoothie for after class.

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