“I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.” - Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
Yoga and eating are two activities that are linked since you can’t do one without the other. According to a Vegactu survey, 12% of those who do yoga are vegetarian. This is a more ethical approach to eating that generally involves eating more fruit, vegetables, and good protein rather than fatty acids, fats, and dairy products.
Since yoga requires a lot of physical effort, it’s important that you prepare for each session by eating right. We’re made from the food we eat. It’s what makes exercise easier, more effective, and more useful.
What’s better than getting the most out of a good yoga session?
So what should you eat before and after a yoga session?
In this article, we're looking at the reasons behind eating well when you do yoga, what you should eat before a yoga session, what to eat once you've finished doing yoga, and the types of food that are important for yogis.
Why Should You Eat Well When You Do Yoga?
Are you familiar with terms such as glycemic index, muscle mass, balanced meals, snacking?
You should be if you do yoga because your diet is an important part of it. In fact, this activity requires a lot of physical effort, balance, and controlled breathing. You need to know what to feed your body, mind, and spirit.
You need to more than just to feed yourself. This is why there’s plenty of information on what to eat. You need to be aware of what’s available and what will work. In order to get the most out of your yoga sessions, you’ll need calories to give you energy at the right time during any physical exertion.
In fact, a large part of your diet when you do yoga is eating for energy. This is the main reason your body needs nutrition. After all, you need to eat foods that give you the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in order to maintain your energy levels and keep your body functioning. Feeding yourself is both essential and instinctive to such an extent that, slowly but surely, your body will start making the most out of what you put into it.
While some foods are healthier than others, healthy foods are those that are good at boosting your energy in order to do what you need to do, maintain your blood sugar levels, include healthy fats, ensure that you don't suffer from fatigue, and naturally aid digestion and are good for weight loss (if you're overweight) or help you maintain a healthy weight.
Thus, by eating starch, oats, brown rice, green vegetables, and cereal bars and smoothies, you can get rid of fat, build muscle, and tone your body. You’ll soon be ready to do sport by eating right.
There are as many different yoga diets as there are types of food. The most important thing is that you have a balanced diet in terms of your calorie intake, that they give you an energy boost when you need to do sport, and you don't feel lethargic as a result of what you eat.
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But what exactly is eating right?
Don’t panic! We’re going to tell you.
Eating Before a Yoga Session
We tend to forget that a yoga session is still a workout. While the goal is meditation, relaxation, a few sun salutations and fluid movements, there’s a lot of cardio, muscle toning, and muscle building going on. What better way to lose weight and give our metabolism a kick! Don’t forget to drink plenty of water!
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The food on your plate is a different beast. You need to first measure out the food you’re going to have throughout the day. Don’t hesitate to have a proper breakfast in the morning complete with fresh produce such as fruit. Of course, cereals including glycogen are useful, as is whole wheat bread.
At lunchtime, the principle is the same. You can have fish or red meat for a bit of protein before a session. A lot of yogis who are vegetarian will get their proteins elsewhere. That’s not a problem. You can get vegetable proteins from pulses and legumes, the kind that’ll help you get the most out of your metabolism. Furthermore, you won’t be hungry, either.
In the evening, if you’re going to yoga later on in the day, you need to take into account that you’ll need a light meal that’s also going to give you what you need to exercise. It can be quite difficult finding the balance. Consider seasonal vegetables and cereals or grains that will give you the energy you need right until the end of the session. Try to have dinner as early as possible so that you’ll have time to digest your meal before you do yoga and go to bed.
Throughout the day, you can also snack. Don’t forget that you’re not eating in order to run a marathon, lose weight, or count calories, you’re eating so that you’re not going to be hungry and get the most out of your yoga session. This means that you can also have things like white meat.
Eating After a Yoga Session
Advice for Eating After Yoga
After a yoga session, you’re probably going to feel a bit tired or have a few aches and pains if it was a particularly demanding session. To avoid this, make sure that you drink enough water. You need to make sure that you’re body’s hydrated enough to repair your cells after a group or individual yoga session.
Whatever the time of day, you should make sure that you’re having fast-acting sugars. This is a good idea for after any sporting activity. Similarly, you should also get some fibre in you. You should consult a nutritionist if you’re not sure exactly what you should eat.
Whether it’s an evening meal, a quick snack, or breakfast, our eating habits need to line up with our lifestyle and activity levels (especially when it comes to yoga!). It’s not about counting calories but rather giving your body the resources it needs for after a yoga class.
Most of the time, we like to have carbohydrates after a session, to replace the calories we burnt during the session. Foods rich in carbohydrates include wholemeal bread. White bread is also good, but it includes less fibre and is less nutritious.
What Should You Eat and Drink After a Yoga Class?
We can’t stress this enough, but you have to hydrate. Don’t forget that fruit is often full of natural sugars and water. However, don’t forget about proteins, either, as they help your muscles work.
Why not bring all of this together in a smoothie with a few fruits, vegetables, and protein powder to balance it all out?
A small recipe could be:
- A teaspoon of vegetable protein powder
- A handful of spinach shoots.
- 250ml of vegetable milk such as coconut milk or oat milk.
- A kiwifruit for vitamin C.
- And a banana.
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There’s nothing complicated about it. After a session, this type of snack or meal, which is both light and rich, is really good for helping you to eat less and get the most out of your body’s energy.
Are you now ready to rise to the challenge?
As you’ll have understood, yoga and diet complement one another and you need to ensure that you’re balanced in both. Depending on the time of day, try to have some carbohydrates to provide you with energy before a session and add some protein afterwards to help you recover. Make sure you’re hydrated throughout!
If you're craving snacks, keep in mind that the best foods will give you exactly what you need and nothing more. You can eat carbs, high-fibre foods, omega three fatty acids, and even foods with sugar if that's what your body needs.
If you're still not certain about what you should be eating, don't forget that you can always talk to your yoga instructor or tutor about the foods they recommend. Similarly, make sure you ask the opinion of a medical professional before you start a new fitness programme, routine, or diet, especially if you have medical conditions that could be negatively affected by doing yoga and changing your diet.