Yoga can be an amazing experience for both the body and the mind. Choosing healthy foods can be important, whether you’re doing a meditative Hatha session or a pumping hot yoga session. The foods to eat before a yoga class should be nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and high in protein.
There are many foods that fit these profiles, but many can be better or worse for your body before stepping on the yoga mat. It can be daunting to choose what foods to eat and what foods will best support you. Let’s go over what foods we can eat to help us practice yoga and achieve our goals.
High in potassium and fiber, full of fast-acting carbs, and rich in antioxidants, the humble banana is a fruit we all know and love. The nutrients in bananas pack a punch, and the fiber makes the energy of this fruit last through your whole session.
It’s simple to eat on-the-go, a cinch to stash in your yoga bag, and very inexpensive to those budget-minded folks. It’ll give you the right boost of energy when you’re short on time. The potassium in bananas is also well-known to avoid muscle cramps.
A healthy meal on its own, Greek yogurt is rich in protein and probiotics—which can help your gut stay healthy. Nowadays, there’s a wide selection of Greek yogurt, including dairy-free varieties that you can find easily.
A word of warning: Many yogurts can contain added sugars, which can raise your blood sugar and make your mind and body race. So, try to find low sugar Greek yogurt and flavor it with fruit for a naturally sweet topping.
All berries are nutrient-dense, high fiber fruits that’ll keep your waistline slim with their low calories. Many berries are delicious and healthy on their own, but my choice would be blueberries.
They contain many antioxidants that can help you fight off diseases and possibly reduce signs of aging. Dried berries are a great choice as well, but as with the yogurt, please watch the added sugar content.
In recent years, oatmeal has gone from your grandfather’s tried-and-true morning routine to the next hot thing in breakfast. Oatmeal is high in fiber and such a great base for other toppings like fruit and nuts.
If you make it with milk or a dairy-free alternative, it becomes a complete meal of fat, protein, and fibrous carbs. And of course, don’t forget Gordon Ramsay’s favorite breakfast: Overnight oats. Here’s what to do:
- Pop some oats, milk or dairy alternative, and chia seeds in a container.
- Throw it in the fridge overnight.
- Top with fruit in the morning for a lovely start to your day.
Nuts and Nut Butters
The nutrient-dense nut is one of the best foods to eat before a yoga session. Nuts are the star champion on this list as they are high in healthy fats, protein, and fiber! My suggestion is a handful of raw almonds for a nice crunchy snack.
Almond butter is a great alternative to peanut butter for folks with allergies, but if almonds aren’t your thing or you have an allergy, there’s a wide selection of nuts and nut butters in stores now. One of my favorite meals is almond butter mixed into oatmeal for a great fiber-rich breakfast.
Traditional yogis were devout followers of Buddhism, and as such, they were vegetarians. These yogis knew what they were doing with their food. One essential they commonly ate was tofu. But don’t let the stigma of tofu fool you; it’s an amazing meat-alternative packed with protein and healthy fats.
Tofu can be easily cooked in a variety of ways from boiled in soup, fried, and even baked. If you add your favorite seasonings or marinades, it can take on any flavor your dish needs. Drop by your local Asian supermarket to grab tofu on sale as well!
Beans and Lentils
Following in the yogis of old, beans and lentils were their staples. High in soluble fiber, which promotes gut health, can lower cholesterol, and help relieve constipation. They are also high in protein, especially lentils, and easy to cook into a variety of dishes.
Another great high-fiber food which can easily replace rice in many of your meals—while containing more protein! As it is a whole-grain too, it can greatly reduce the impact on your blood sugar compared to refined wheat or white rice.
These power-packed greens include spinach, kale, collard greens, cabbage, and microgreens. These are dense in vitamins and minerals, and fiber. Leafy greens would make a great salad before you hit the yoga class.
Ginger Tea with Honey
Ginger is a long-time cure-all in the eastern part of the world. A cup of ginger tea is a great healthy drink that can carry surprising health benefits:
- Boosts immunity to disease
- Relieves nausea
- Improves stomach health
- Soothes minor pains
- Reduces stress
Honey makes a great addition as both a natural sweetener and provides antioxidants.
Dark Chocolate and Raw Cacao Nibs
While not the healthiest of foods, dark chocolate can be a great treat before your yoga session as chocolate has been shown to be a great source of antioxidants, can lower blood pressure, and improve your mood.
Be sure to buy dark chocolate labeled with at least 60% cacao as some dark chocolate is only “dark” in flavor alone. If you want all the benefits without the added sugar, raw cacao nibs can be a tasty treat as well and as convenient as nuts for storage and portability.
Is It Okay to Eat Before Yoga?
It’s perfectly fine to eat before a yoga class, though it is also fine to “be fasted” before a yoga class. But let’s consider the length of a class can vary between 30 minutes to an hour or more.
During such a long session, your body can be exerted so much it’ll beg for some fuel, or your mind could start racing for a snack while you try to find your Zen. A meal, or even a snack, can help you prepare for the long battle on the yoga mat.
There is no reason not to eat before a yoga class. In fact, munching on something dense in nutrients, fiber, and protein is likely to keep your energy up, boost your strength, and aid in post-workout muscle recovery.
When Should I Eat Before Yoga?
The best range of time to eat would be 45 minutes to an hour before class. It’ll give your body some time to digest the food, absorb the nutrients, and give you a balanced mental state.
Eating too early can leave you nauseous, and eating too late can make you feel sluggish. But you know your body best. Experiment a bit. Keep the pre-class snacks light and vary what you are eating and when until you find the best mix of each for you.
From the Table to the Yoga Mat
The mindfulness you bring to your yoga practice is a great thing to bring to your eating. After all, food and nutrition fuel your mind, body, and spirit.
Any of these foods is a great selection to eat before your yoga class. I hope you find the perfect food that gives your body the balance it needs to help you through your practice, whether you need the balance for that half-moon pose or the stable energy for flowing through in your hot yoga session.