What should you eat before your race?

Updated: Jul 25

So you are race week is here and you have heard all these articles and people who talk about carb loading? That’s a myth. Carb loading is old science and had been debunked in various studies. Other studies has “modified“ it to avoid the “depletion“ phase*

It is a very simple fact that your body‘s ability to absorb carbohydrates is limited to a finite amount. It makes no difference if you ate 2000 cal or 15,000 cals, your body‘s natural ability to digest and store carbs and convert them to glycogen cannot exceed an amount that will last you for an hour to 90 minutes of vigorous activity, such as an endurance event. Glycogen (which is stored in the liver and the bonds of muscle tissue), is derived primarily from the calories you consume. These calories are burned within a periodic cycle, so no matter how much you load, your body would absorb what it needs and the rest would simply go to waste. In endurance sports, such as long distance running and triathlon, a continuous supply of calories to replenish the depleted these glycogen stores is the only way to go, since as explained above, your body can only store a finite amount of it. So, depending on your body‘s metabolic makeup, metabolic burn rate and other physiological factors, you should only eat a normal amount of food, perhaps a bigger ratio of it should consist of carbohydrates to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort. So, carb loading is out!

Instead, the focus should be to avoid fiberous foods, an example of that would be beans, whole grains, cereals, broccoli, etc. Instead, the focus should be on dense/complex carbohydrates such as bagels, muffins or toast for breakfast white rice/potatoes(without skin /yams, meats, fish, poultry, etc. for lunch and dinner.

Also, it is extremely important that these foods items has to be foods you are used to eating to avoid gastrointestinal issues on race day.

Along with that, start really to focus on hydration, approx a minimum 80 Oz and up to 120 Oz on hot days (including fluids used during your training sessions).

Additionally, you should make sure to replenish with powerful nutrients especially electrolytes and minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium . You can drink a mix of electrolytes (excluding your training drink) on the days prior to race day to make up for any deficiencies if you have lacked in these. Electrolytes have a tendency not to store for long so a 28-48 hr period would be a reasonable period to replenish your body with those crucial nutrients to avoid cramping and to allow the nutrients to be delivered to your body.

On race day morning, eat an ordinary (lighter) breakfast like you would eat every morning nothing special or different provided that it doesn’t have any fiberous foods or any items that you have not been used to consuming. Another factor, track your tummy to go to the bathroom early every morning. Some athletes use an early morning smoothie or a shake, others drink a cup of coffee to facilitate their stool and get a good stomach emptying before taking on a long race day. Again, our goal is to avoid any gastrointestinal or bathroom surprises! Good luck and go crush it!

* https://www.mysportscience.com/amp/carb-loading

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