Our resident nutritionist sheds some light on what you might want to chow before a tough event
The new year brings a number of key races to the doorstep. Training is banked but some nutrition questions come knocking too. Most of these revolve around what to do in the lead up to a race. Leading up to any event a proper training and nutrition taper can assist your race-day performance. The natural reduction in training load with nutrition kept constant is an updated approach to loading your muscles and liver with excess fuels for storage and use during the race. Focus on some good quality and quantity sleep over these days too.
1. 36 HOURS BEFORE THE RACE
From about 36 hours before the race (dinner two nights before) you can start to dial in the focus a little more.
+ Eat slightly bigger portions of carbohydrate rich food with each meal – fruit, vegetables (including starchy vegetables), legumes and unrefined grains should be part of every meal. Use these foods as additional snacks on the day before too. Don’t leave your fuelling for old school carbo-loading techniques the night before that may leave you feeling lethargic the next morning on the start line!
+ Don’t forget to add quality protein rich foods (meat, chicken, eggs, dairy) and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocado) to each meal too but these will be smaller components on the plate.
+ Hydrate well on the day before the event too. If you produce a heavy or salty sweat make sure this is from an electrolyte drink, and feel free to go a little heavier on the salt in your food too. Loading your sodium can help prevent excessive losses for those at risk.
+ 40-75 g oats
+ 1-2 Tbsp chia seeds
+ 100-200 g plain yoghurt
+ 50-100 ml milk (of choice)
+ ½ tsp cinnamon
+ ¼ lemon
+ 1 Tbsp dried cranberries
+ Pinch salt
+ Honey to taste
The night before racing or training mix the oats, chia seeds, cinnamon, cranberries and yoghurt together. Use the larger portion of oats or yoghurt if you are heavier, the smaller portion for lighter riders. Add the milk, a pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon. The consistency should be fairly wet, it will thicken overnight. Pour into a mug or take-away pot if you are going to eat on the go. In the morning this can be eaten cold or popped into the microwave for a minute for a warmer breakfast. Add a drizzle of honey and any other topping you feel like (berries or bananas are a good way to get in a little extra fuel).
2. THE MORNING OF AN EVENT
+ Aim to eat a quality carbohydrate and protein containing breakfast three to four hours before your race. Choose foods you are used to and tolerate well. A protein (egg or cheese) filled sandwich, milk and a cereal or a fruit smoothie may be good choices. Our recipe for overnight chia and oat cups are a great go-to. Combine this with your choice of fluid too.
+ Have a small carbohydrate containing snack or drink 60 – 90 minutes before your race – if you have an early start this would replace your breakfast above. Choose something easy to digest like a crustless white bread sandwich, a muffin, an energy bar, a carbohydrate drink or a piece of fruit. Again make sure it is a food you are used to and have tried before in training. If a smaller snack is used in place of a good meal make sure you start fuelling early on the bike too.
+ Start your race well hydrated by using an energy drink as your carbohydrate snack or adding some water or electrolyte containing drink. Sip on this up to the start.
3. DURING THE RACE STICK TO YOUR TRIED AND TESTED NUTRITION STRATEGY, FUELLING AND HYDRATING WELL SHOULD BE STANDARD PRACTICE COME RACE TIME.
+ Replacing what you have lost and assisting repair are the key points after an event which means a focus on fluid, carbohydrate and protein. Try to get some decent nutrition in before celebrating your efforts at the bar as alcohol will hamper your recovery significantly.
+ Milk-based drinks are a super choice, one of the best rehydrating options and a source of carbohydrate and protein. A protein filled sandwich, wrap or roll with a glass of fruit juice or water is another option
+ If you are competing within the next day again this recovery nutrition is vital and needs repeating every two to three hours.