Healthy food

How to prepare for your yoga practice: Food as Fuel.

To eat or not to eat before and after yoga, that is the question. One thing that many yogis have in common, whether they’re a newbie, a seasoned vet, or anywhere in between, they wonder, “Should I eat food before yoga?” 

The short answer is, absolutely, but the types of food you eat and when you eat them are key. After all, many of us have experienced that awkward, audible moment during down-ward facing dog. So, listen up yogis everywhere, here’s what you need to know! You want to fuel your body both before and after class. While the yoga room is great for loosening up muscles, all that activity can take a toll on your body’s hydration and electrolyte balance. So, before you step on your mat, prepare to properly prime your tank before and after your yoga class. 

Though, the ideal is to practice yoga early in the morning on an empty stomach, considering today’s hectic lifestyle, people have to squeeze in their yoga practice whenever they find the time. Eating the right food and when to eat before and after yoga is key to feeling our best. 

Yoga in the morning
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What to eat before?

A healthy and balanced diet is preferable to get the best out of your yoga practice. In general, you want to eat each of the three macronutrients – protein, fat and carbohydrate. With that being said, try not to eat any heavy or large meals, and as a general rule, stop eating two hours before class. 

If your yoga practice is 1 – 2  hours after waking up it’s advisable to have easy to digest food like fresh fruits (bananas are a great source of potassium), or juice at least 45 minutes before the class. However, if you’re attending a later yoga class try eating a light meal or a small snack at least 1 hour before. This gives your digestive tract enough time to do some work to get the food out of your tummy. It’s also important to stay well hydrated before your practice, but don’t overdo it. Instead, try to take small sips throughout the hours before your class.

Here are some good options:

  • Apple slices dipped in peanut butter, or a banana
  • Healthy granola bars and energy bites
  • A handful of almonds and fresh fruit, like blueberries
  • Smoothies or protein shakes
  • A hard-boiled egg and some carrot sticks 
  • Toast with avocado

Snack suggestions before yoga
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As you become more acclimated to how your body responds to your eating schedule during yoga, you can modify your routine. For example, if you’re pregnant, or prone to get dizzy when practicing aerial yoga, be sure to eat a snack about 30 minutes before class. Do what feels best for your body so that you feel light and comfortable throughout the duration of class!

What to eat after?

Now let’s talk about what you can eat after a yoga class. The first thing you want to do after a yoga session is to drink water – keep yourself hydrated! After the class it’s time to refuel with a meal or snack that has a 3-to-1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, which can help repair muscle tissues and restore energy levels. Preferably wait 30 minutes after your practice before eating so that your body can re-acclimate itself and won’t risk going into food coma 

Here are some other great options to eat after your yoga practice:

  • Turkey wrapped around cream cheese and asparagus spears
  • Chicken breast with some avocado and sweet potatoes
  • Greek yoghurt with fruits, nuts, and granola
  • Quinoa bowl with veggies, tofu, or legumes
  • Smoothie with frozen berries, banana and greek yoghurt

Balanced diet after yoga
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These are just suggestions. Remember the most important thing here is to experiment and listen to your body. You know your body best and can determine what works for you. One thing is for certain, you must come to yoga prepared, rested, nourished and in the right frame of mind. Yoga is an extremely rewarding practice but at the same time can be challenging.

Finally, after a day of yoga and healthy eating, a little dark chocolate is in order. Dark chocolate is loaded with potassium and some vitamin E, both of which are antioxidant. 

Dark chocolate after yoga
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Okay yogis, now you know what to eat before and after and also when to eat, so get in there and nama-slay!