Pre-Race Nutrition Tips from a Pro

Hi folks! I survived my first triathlon, but I'm going to keep you in suspense for the recap as I process yesterday's experience. 

In the meantime, I'm going to share some fun nutrition information that Julie Sparkes from The Athlete's Palate shared with me prior to race day. She's been helping me for a few months and I'm happy to report that my stomach cooperated throughout training and tri-day thanks to her advice and guidance. 

So here ya go!

Dos and Donts of Pre-Race Nutrition

1) What are some tips for fueling the week leading up to a race? 

  • Drink lots of water but not too much. Make sure that you are well hydrated but not to the point that you're going to the bathroom frequently. 
  • A week or two before the race when tapering most athletes are really hungry. I recommend that you eat foods with more fiber. A good option is chilli because is so healthy and filling, you can make a big pot and it's easy to reheat during the week. 
  • Add fruit to your carbs to help slow down the breakdown and will slowly release in your  digestive system. This will make you feel full longer and will help reduce those snacking habits. 
  • Maintain eating foods that your body is used to and easy to digest. This will prevent any digestive issues. 

2) How long of a workout until you should consider refueling during it? 

  • The body is burning energy as soon as you start your workout. Carbohydrate and sodium stores should be replenished every 20 minutes into the workout and continue to be replenished every 20mins. As workouts increase in time or intensity this becomes more critical. 

3) What are your thoughts on carb-loading and how far out from a race would you start? 

  • Carb loading in moderation is important because it gives you a chance to top up your glycogen stores. Glycogen is mainly stored in the liver and muscles. When you fuel, your body breaks down the carbs from your food during digestion and converts the carbs into glucose. Your body will use the glucose right away and will store the remainder in your muscles. The greater the glycogen storage you have, the longer you will be able to maintain your exercise intensity. 
  • With being said, for endurance sports I recommend to eat a good serving of healthy carbs during your training 3-4 days before your race.  
  • Here are some examples of carbs that are high in nutrients and carbohydrates: 

Starchy Vegetables

  • Potatoes
  • Yams
  • Squash
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Taro
  • Pumpkin
  • Plantain
  • Beets

Whole Grains

  • Brown Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Farro
  • Oats
  • Bulgur
  • Whole Rye
  • Whole Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Freekeh

4) Pre-race meal (the night before and morning of) tips

  • Eat food that your body is used to and easy to digest. Don't try anything new the day before the race or the morning of. Eat meals that are high in complex carbs, healthy fats and lean protein. 

5) Is a post-race beer detrimental to recovery? 

  • As a holistic nutritionist I can't say that alcohol in anyway is beneficial but with that being said I like to have a celebratory beverage just like the next person. Life is all about balance and sometimes it is good to reward yourself! On a positive note beer does have the perfect carb to protein ratio with 4:1 which helps with recovery. 
TOBAY Triathlon