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5 Foods to Avoid Less than 2 Hours Before Practice

By: Lauren Papanos

Chances are that you have at some point experienced the feeling of indigestion before practice. The feeling of extreme fullness, bloating, burping, or feeling like your meal is bouncing as you tumble. Did you know that this can be prevented by rearranging the foods you eat and how you eat them before practice? Today I am going to share with you 5 foods to avoid less than 2 hours before practice.

5 Foods to Avoid 2 Hours Before Practice:

1. Large Salad

Salads are a great healthy meal option, however, they are not the best option to eat before practice. Salads are rich in raw vegetables making them high in fiber. The fiber in these vegetables absorbs fluid and can stimulate the bowels to hold onto fluid (causing bloating) until a bowel movement occurs. Instead, it is best to eat cooked vegetables in small quantities before practice and to save your large quantities of vegetables (especially raw ones) for meals outside of practice time.

2. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are also great healthy foods that are rich in fiber and anti-inflammatory fats. However, because of the fiber and fat content, they digest very slowly and can result in the feeling of bloat, fullness, and indigestion during practice. It is best to stick with small quantities before practice time (1-2 tbsp) and if choosing to eat them, to pick nut butters instead of raw nuts.

3. Greasy or Fast Food

Greasy and fast foods like fried chicken, french fries and hamburgers are higher in fat content, making them a slower digesting meal. Because of their high fat content they can not only slow digestion but also cause heartburn and abdominal pain after eating. Greasy and fast foods are best for special occasions and are not recommended to be eaten before practice time.

4. Sugary Foods (candy, soda, juices)

You may have heard before that sugar gives you energy. That is true! However, foods that are high in sugar and low in fiber like candy, soda and juices will result in an energy spike followed by an energy crash. If you consume these foods one to two hours before practice, it is likely that you will experience this crash mid-way through practice. Instead, limit these foods to special occasions and instead pick foods with natural sugars and fiber like fruit and vegetables.

5. Red Meat

Red meat like beef and pork are slower digesting protein sources. These protein options require large amounts of stomach acid to break them down and digest them. If you have ever felt like after you eat beef or pork that it sits in your stomach for a while, this is why. I recommend instead choosing lean protein options like chicken, turkey, white fish, or dairy for your pre-practice meal protein source.

Which foods above do you currently eat before practice that you can replace for an easier to digest option? Share with us your pre-practice meal/snack of choice by using the hashtag #CheerDistrictFueled.


Get to know Lauren, the heart and brains behind our nutrition posts!

Lauren Papanos, MS, RD, CSSD

Lauren not only has all these impressive accomplishments and designations, which are a big reason why we chose her to help us educate you on nutrition but, Lauren was also a dedicated cheerleader herself. It's one thing to know the science, but it's another to know the sport inside and out in order to best apply those practices. We are lucky to have Lauren as a part of our Cheer District Family!

SFA Cheerleader - Lauren Papanos

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