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Walk into any yoga class and you will inevitably hear people talk about being too hungry or too full to practice. You have probably even experienced this yourself. Which begs the question, what is the magic amount of time to wait between eating and practicing yoga or exercising?
This question is not easy to answer as it differs for every person. However, there are general guidelines you can follow to ensure that you are comfortable while still receiving the maximum benefits from your practice. As general knowledge, your body needs fuel to operate and the better the fuel, the better you function. Depending on what type of class you will be attending – a power vinyasa class or a more passive yin class – you will want to prepare properly.
What you eat after yoga is just as important as what you eat before.
You don’t want to be uncomfortably full when you get to class so eat a proper meal 3-4 hours before a class but to get the best physical benefits from a workout, especially from a high intensity one, eat a small snack about thirty minutes to an hour before class. This snack should include carbohydrates, protein and a small amount of sugar. If there is no food for your body to use it will start to take from your muscles in order to create the energy needed and muscle is a really good thing to have.
There are over 600 muscles in the human body that make up over 40% of our body weight. They are responsible for all of our movements, literally everything. Muscles will also help you sustain a healthy metabolism and burn more total body fat. They help you maintain balance and posture for everyday activities, especially as you grow older. Having healthy and strong muscles will also help prevent injuries from sports and/or old age.
The following snack ideas are light enough to not fill you up but will also help you build and maintain muscle as you work out:
- Hard boiled eggs
- Greek yogurt with fresh fruit
- Toast with peanut butter, banana and cinnamon
- Mixed nuts
- A banana
- An apple with peanut or nut butter
- Carrots, celery or crackers with a hummus dip
- Avocado toast
- Trail mix
Staying hydrated is also really important for maintaining healthy muscles. Muscles need water to transport nutrients and to take away things that the body doesn’t need. Muscles also need water to work to their full potential so that they don’t cramp up –if you find that you experience cramps during your practice, good chances are that you are dehydrated. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water, you should be drinking it throughout the day.
Depending on what type of class you will be attending, you will want to prepare properly.
If you are going to a yin yoga class you should eat a meal about 2-3 hours prior so that you are fully digested for class. One reason for wanting to be fully digested is to ensure you are comfortable enough to sit in one pose for a longer period of time. You will want to try and avoid shifting and moving and getting up for the bathroom to ensure maximum benefits of yin yoga.
Yin yoga targets the connective tissue with slower and longer poses. Typically poses are held anywhere from 3-20 minutes. Doing so stresses the muscle, which then stretches the muscles resulting in the elongated and toned body. Even better, this strengthens the muscles and aids in flexibility.
If you need to eat a snack before a yin class try something light with low sugar and calming properties about thirty minutes before class:
- Half an avocado
Certain foods should be avoided before practicing any type of yoga. Spicy, garlic-y and onion-y foods and processed foods may make your practice a bit more difficult. Heavy meals like pasta or dairy rich foods will make you feel tired and sluggish. You should also try and avoid oily or fried foods and raw vegetables as they may make you feel full and bloated.
What you eat after yoga is just as important as what you eat before. Food high in protein is always a good choice as it promotes muscle growth and recovery and keeps you full. If you eat meat and seafood, things like chicken, turkey and tuna are a good choice. Of course, there are plenty of other things to get protein from like eggs, nuts, yogurt and greens. You should also include some carbohydrates like pasta, sweet potatoes, rice or quinoa, and steamed vegetables. And as always – drink plenty of water.
Have you found your sweet spot for eating before your class? How long is it? Please let me know in the comments. I truly care!:)
P.S. If you want to indulge yourself, from time to time, make sure to do it after your practice!;) But make sure you ENJOYYY. Check these out if you like to indulge yourself with sweet yummy things: