In yoga as in life, some of the greatest successes are achieved with balance and discipline. Yoga trains the mind and body, but in order to maximize your practice and feed your mind, you’ve got to first fuel your body right. Because power yoga in a heated room is such an intense activity, your body needs to be properly hydrated and fueled in order for you to make the most of your mat time. In fact, regularly practicing on an empty stomach can cause you to lose muscle mass as well as slow down your metabolism.
The best foods to eat before your power yoga sesh should ideally contain a simple carb plus some lean protein and healthy fat. If you choose carbs alone (like fruit, cereal, salad) or anything sugary or processed, you may feel great at first but then you crash. Protein without carbs can make you feel heavy and slow you down. A combination of both is the best recipe for success. Read on to learn the specific pre-yoga munchies and post-yoga foods that will help energize your body as well as your practice.
Water: Drink it all the time.
Hydration is extremely important. Drink water all the time, every day for best results. Always bring water to class and make sure you’re hydrated beforehand. The old 64oz. of water per day standard is still a good starting point, but a better one is to half of your body weight in ounces.
These important munchies need to be nutritious, light, and eaten an hour and a half before it’s time to hit your mat. Almonds (the plain, unsalted version) are rich in vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium, giving you the energy and stamina to hold that crow pose, as does a small serving of protein-rich, plain, full-fat Greek yogurt. Plain greek yogurt mixed with some almond butter, cinnamon and unsweetened coconut slices is amazing before class!
If you don’t have time to prepare anything before it’s time to hit your mat, dried fruits like apricots are good; they’re low in acidity and the natural sugars will help give you energy without heartburn. Bananas are rich in potassium and will help keep you hydrated, but if you want something with a little less sugar, an avocado is the way to go. Water-rich fruits that are low in acidity like melons are easy to cube and pop in the fridge, so you can grab them on your way out the door.
When your workout is over, it’s best to refuel within 30 to 60 minutes after class. Foods that quickly absorbed and digested are the best. Shoot for a combination of lean protein and a small amount of carbs. But don’t overdo it with the carbs. Protein helps your muscles recover, adapt, and build while carbohydrates push nutrients into your muscles faster. Tired of the same old protein shake? Sweet potatoes are excellent starchy carbs (as long as they aren’t fried!) while a couple hardboiled eggs are good on-the-go options. Salad with quinoa, steamed vegetables, apple slices topped with almond butter, and edamame are all great post-yoga snacks. Just remember, you put all that time and effort into your practice, so don’t neglect what you put into your body! A healthy practice is a balanced practice.