Top 5 Eating Rules Before Your Race

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*This comes to you from a certified dietitian: Courtney McCliment. She’s a mom of 2, runner and over all bad ass sweetie pie. 

Hey runners!  I love running.  I love food.  Thankfully, there is a way for these two loves to happily coexist!  Nutrition choices can assist you in all the phases of your training.  Training, pre-race and recovery are times when strategic nutrition moves can help you achieve your goals.  Today, I am offering my Top 5 pre-race nutrition guidelines.  Because every individual is different, the following guidelines will have different meanings to each person.  There is no magic diet to prescribe that will work for everyone.  Sorry.  The first rule is number one because it is the most important.

 

1.Tried and True, Nothing New.  The 48 hours before a race is NOT the time to experiment with new and unfamiliar foods.  Eat and drink whatever has worked best for you during your training.  If you will be traveling, bring what you can with you so you are sure to have your regular foods before the race.  

 

2. Hydration.  You cannot rehydrate in the short hours right before the race.  So drink up…water, that is, well in advance.  Your urine should be clear or pale yellow.  Hydration is a deal breaker.  It can make or break your performance.

 

3. Fiber.  If you have always eaten a high fiber diet during training and perform well, then keep doing what works.  However, addition of fiber around race time will be regretted.  Fiber can increase intestinal transit time and well….add unwanted porta potty time.  Natural sources of fiber include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans.  While fiber is great for GI health in general, it can be a nuisance during a race.  For you label readers out there, anything greater than 5 grams of fiber per serving is considered a “high source” of fiber.  

4. Timing.  The day before race day, consider doing your carb loading at breakfast and lunch with dinner being your lightest meal.  That way your body has some time to digest and process.  Small or light meals can be two hours before the race, however large meals should be eaten four hours before.

 

5. Carbs.  They are the preferred energy source for your brain and muscles.  Load them up the day before.  Carbohydrates naturally occur in fruits/fruit juice, bread, pasta, rice, starchy vegetables (corn, potatoes, squash and peas), beans, milk and yogurt.  The carbs of choice are those that are familiar to your body and be mindful of the fiber content (see #3).  The amount you need is different for each individual, however the majority of endurance runners out there need a minimum of 45-60 grams of total carbohydrate at each meal.  There are many on-line resources to assist in estimating nutrition content of food.  Be sure to use the “Total Carbohydrate” information and not just the “Sugars”.  Shorting on the carbs can drag you down during a race and put you at risk for injury.

 

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