What to eat before you train or race
This blog is part of a series on eating for sport. Here I focus on what to eat before a training session or race to get the most out of your performance.
It's worth noting that anything consumed within 30-60 minutes of an event has no benefit to instantly available energy levels (stored in the blood and liver). There is a risk eating this close to exercise can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar in some individuals when you start running. This does not effect everyone in the same way, but can be quite uncomfortable, and feel like you are suddenly very low on energy. Historically this is why athletes are advised not to consume carbs 30-60 minutes before exercise.
The type of carbs consumed prior to a session/event is important. Go for low Glycemic Index fuels, before and during training/event. Low GI encourages better fat utilisation, so glycogen stores are not used as fast and allows you to keep going for longer.
Have a meal 2-4 hours before or snack 1-2 hours before. If it's a long race or training session, have both the meal and the snack! They should both be low in fat and moderate in fibre to reduce the risk of stomach/digestive issues when you are running. Here are some ideas.
Jacket potato - possible fillings can be beans, tuna with creme fruit or sweetcorn, chicken and coleslaw
Pizza - thin crust, tomato base, vegetable toppings
Pasta - wholewheat, tomato based sauces, vegetables, serve with salad. Use strong cheese to get flavour with less fat
Hot pots and casseroles with lean meat; chicken, bean and vegetable with rice or cous cous
Grilled fish with veg, rice, noodles, salad, bulgar wheat, rice
Puddings, bread pudding, fruit crumble with greek yoghurt, rice pudding
Sandwiches, wholemeal, chicken, turkey, eggs, salad
Bananas on toast
Yoghurt with raisins
Pot of rice pudding
Oatcakes with jam, cream cheese, nut butter
Banana or yoghurt based smoothies
Cereal or energy bars
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