You should always give yourself at least an hour between eating and working out. Flores explains, "There's this idea out there that eating before a workout helps fuel performance. But what can happen is that you may overeat and be digesting a meal which can cause nausea and decreased performance. Eat your best meal post workout, especially protein and good carbs like sweet potatoes or quinoa."
Before strength training, you should not strain your body with too much cardio. Flores suggests that you save your cardio for post workout, "The purpose of strength training is to build muscle and get stronger. Expending too much before a strength workout will only decrease performance which is counter to the goal."
While you should warm up your muscles, stretching is sometimes taken too far. Chris Cooper a NSCA certified fitness professional and co-owner of Active Movement and Performance explains that he always tells his clients to never static stretch before they train, "We tell them to incorporate more dynamic movements before they train as they will warm up the muscles and joints." He continues to compare stretching your body to stretching a cold rubber band, "It certainly won't stretch as far, and you could be doing damage to that muscle."
Sleep is essential for restoring your muscles and clearing your mind. You are better off catching up on sleep and giving your body time to recuperate. Rest will help with your metabolism, bettering your workout and fitness goals.
Fitness experts agree that you should never jump into a workout while digesting. "Eating a large meal will cause your body to initiate internal functions to break down the food," explains nutritionist and trainer, Mike Clancy. "Disrupting these mechanisms with a physical stress will not only cause stomach pains, but will drastically affect your workout performance."
To ward off any anticipated pain, taking painkillers may seem like the best option. But, in reality, taking medication such as ibuprofen is actually hurting your workout. Tracey Gerety, trainer and creator of FitWalk explains that most over-the-counter pain meds can act as muscle relaxers. A study by Dr. Kim van Wijck, a surgical resident at Orbis Medical Center found that anti-inflammatory painkillers taken before a workout cause problems in the intestines.
We've previously discussed a number of great foods for before and after your workout, but you should most certainly not consume fatty foods before a workout. "If you are going to eat shortly before a workout, avoid eating dietary fat. Not that fat is bad for your health, but the length of time it takes to breakdown fatty foods can hinder your workout performance as well," suggests Clancy. "If you need a quick bite before a workout, stick to simple carbohydrates and protein that can be digested and absorbed at a faster rate."
Overdressing can be dangerous, especially in cooler temperatures. Too many layers can make you overheat therefore making you sweat more. In cooler temperatures, that sweat can actually make you colder. Gerety suggests wearing layers, "As your workout progresses you can shed some layers. A light coat with a breathable t shirt or tank underneath will allow you to train in most elements. In most cases less is more when you are building your own heat."
Exercise requires energy, and energy comes from the food you eat to fuel your body. Working out on an empty stomach will make you tired, and even cause injury from dizziness. Eating something small and digestible before you workout is the best way to give you energy for optimal performance. Cleansing or fasting does not supply the energy necessary for exerting during a good workout.
Even the smallest amount of alcohol is dangerous to your workout. "Whether it be cardiovascular or strength, drinking alcohol can impair your coordination, motor skills and judgement, making you significantly more susceptible to risk of injury," notes Tom Holland, Exercise Physiologist and certified Sports Nutritionish.