Why This RD Encourages You To Eat Pop-Tarts Before Workout | well+well

When Kristy Baumann’s clients look for pre-race snack suggestions, the dietitian often has a somewhat surprising recommendation: Pop-Tarts.

Baumann, who specializes in working with long-distance runners, recently shared on his Instagram how, while Pop-Tarts are often demonized as “junk food,” they actually contain exactly what athletes need before a race: carbohydrates. simple and easy to digest that become fast. energy and will not cause gastrointestinal problems.

It’s a recommendation that surprises runners and non-runners alike, he says, as there’s a common misconception that exercise should be fueled by unprocessed foods or foods we think of as “healthy.”

But really, says Baumann, simple carbohydrates (including sugar!) are a runner’s best friend. Reaching for a Pop-Tart could give your pre-race snack not only a nutritional upgrade, but a fun and convenient one as well.

What to look for in a pre-run snack

For Baumann, the first order of business is often convincing customers to eat something before a race. Not only can it improve your performance by providing extra energy, but it can actually be a key tool in injury prevention. If you run too long on an empty stomach, your body can start to break down protein for fuel, which means you’re running out of amino acids in your muscles, leaving you at greater risk of injury.

“There are so many benefits to eating other than feeling good while running,” she says.

The best kind of pre-run snack gives you a quick source of energy without causing GI upset or feeling too heavy in your stomach. This means you want to look for foods that contain simple carbohydrates (which, unlike complex carbohydrates, are quickly digested for an immediate energy boost) and are low in fiber and fat, which are more difficult to digest and can cause discomfort. stomachic

The Case of Pre-Workout Pop-Tarts

The Pop-Tart ticks the boxes in terms of its nutritional profile: It’s packed with simple carbs, both in the breaded outside and in the inner filling, says Baumann, and contains almost no fiber, which minimizes the risk of a heart attack. mid race. to the bathroom. Plus, the nearly 34 grams of carbs in each tart are densely packed — compare that to the classic pre-race snack of a banana, which averages 28 carbs but is typically larger than a Pop-Tart, and packs more of a punch. for your proverbial money and less food sitting on your stomach while you run.

The Pop-Tart is also very convenient: Baumann says he literally eats one on the way out the door for a run. And the joy of having a nostalgic childhood memory cannot be discounted. But the real proof is in the pudding (or should we say the icing?): “Many runners have tried it and say it helped them a lot,” says Baumann.

Why Runners Shouldn’t Demonize Certain Foods

Pop-Tarts aren’t the only treats that can fuel your run: Baumann says candy (think gummy worms and Swedish fish instead of chocolate), sugary dry cereals for kids (like Lucky Charms), Stroopwafels, whole-grain crackers, and waffles. Eggo’s all tick the boxes for high in simple carbs and low in fiber.

Although these snacks may not be something we consider part of a healthy diet, Baumann says it’s important not to think of foods as “good” or “bad”—all foods can serve a purpose in our lives, even before we run. “We have to look at the big scope of things,” she says. “There is absolutely a time and place for all foods to fit in.”

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