Pre-Race Nutrition by Roanne Rouse, ND


DIET TIPS: EAT WHOLE, REAL FOOD. Chose mostly from the plant kingdom, animal products in moderation, low in sugar and junk food, and high in colorful fruits, vegetables and spices.  There is no one diet that fits all. Caloric intake, food choices, protein intake, fiber and other considerations help you design the best diet for you, and it may change…….

  • When and what to eat before racing:
    • Eat 1.5-2 hours before racing. This gives your stomach time to empty so you will feel less nauseous when racing. If your race is early and you feel anxious, consider either only doing fluids with electrolytes or something easy to digest like a smoothie or toast with butter and jam. Try to avoid food 60 minutes before racing. 
    • Fluids: do drink water and/or electrolyte replacement before racing, but don’t overdue it or it can sit heavy in your stomach and slosh around. A general guide may be 10 oz per hour prior to racing. So about 20 ounces of fluids 2 hours prior to racing. 

Examples of Good Pre-Race Meals 

3-4 Hours Before

  • Breakfast Burrito: tortilla, potatoes, eggs, black beans (add rice to go big)
  • Scramble: Potatoes, eggs, fresh vegetables, plus toast or bagel.

2-3 Hours Before

  • Eggs and Rice: Similar to examples above, but simple and easy to digest.
  • Whole grain waffles with nut butter, side of fruit.
  • Yogurt mixed with granola or cereal, berries, and nuts. Add banana or toast with peanut butter to bump up the calories if necessary.

1-2 Hours Before

  • Bagel with peanut butter or similar nut butter and a banana.
  • Oatmeal with nuts and berries. Add brown sugar if you tolerate simple sugars well before hard efforts. Have 1-2 hard-boiled eggs on the side if you need some protein and fat to slow the rush of blood sugar. 
  • Sports drink or smoothie and a sports bar or granola bar. If you perform better with less solid food before exercise, look for liquid carbohydrate sources and a few bites of something solid.
  • Complex carbs as part of your pre-workout meal including whole grains like rice and rolled oats, or whole grain toast, dried fruit, nut butters, fruit etc. Smoothies are nice pre-work out meal as well. 
  • Protein for recovery, like eggs, tuna, chicken, beans, hummus, sprouts, protein powder and nut butters and nuts. Raw or lightly salted nuts are best. 
  • Ongoing diet: lots of colorful vegetables – this is where you get important vitamins, minerals and fiber.  Colorful foods are also anti-inflammatory. 
  • Colorful fruits – these are high in vitamins like Vitamin C. 
  • Chose whole foods rather than processed foods. For example: having an apple with peanut butter instead of a candy bar or chips. 
  • You might consider an Eat Right for Your Blood Type diet in which Blood Type A’s tend to do better on a vegetarian diet, while O’s tend to better on a higher animal protein diet. B’s and AB’s fall somewhere in the middle. If you suffer from eczema, allergies (esp hay fever) or asthma, you might consider a cow’s milk, yogurt, peanut and wheat free diet. If you have a history of stress fractures, you should consider being evaluated for celiac disease which is treated by avoiding wheat. IgG food sensitivity testing, iron, vitamin testing, and food journaling can help you determine the optimal diet for you. 
  • In general, try to eat wholesome real foods, mostly from plant-based sources and high in nutrients, good fats and lean protein. Limit animal protein, sugar, junk foods and caffeine of all types.