It’s race day morning and you have those pre-race jitters. You’re not sure if you should eat something for breakfast or wait until your race gets going to start fueling. You know that too much food or the wrong food can result in stomach issues...but eating too little can run the risk of running out of energy prematurely.
So many female athletes do not have their breakfast nutrition dialed in and this can change your race. Not only that, in a lot of events, the women may be one of the earlier events – making meal timing even more of a trick. Here is a good way to structure your morning nutrition so you’re able to get the most out of your event.
How much should I eat?
The size of the meal depends on the time you have to digest. A simple rule of thumb:
- 4g/kg - 4hrs out
- 3g/kg - 3hrs out
- 2g/kg - 2hrs out
- 1g/kg - 1hr out
For 3-4 hours out, reliable options include: toast, bagels, porridge, cereal, rice, scotch pancakes, cereal bars, bananas.
At 2-3h out, these same meal suggestions apply, however you want to ensure you go low in fat. At 1h out, both low fat and low fiber options should be considered. This is because you simply don’t have the time needed to digest food high in these compounds.
- 125lbs (56.8kg) = 113.6, 170, 227
- 150lbs (68kg) = 136, 204, 272
- 175lbs (79.5) = 159, 238.5, 318
Carbohydrates are King
Carbs. are most important macronutrient to have in your race day breakfast because your body will be relying heavily on them to fuel your effort. Regardless of sport or event type, if it’s challenging your threshold or forcing you to eek out an effort over time, you will be utilizing carbohydrate primarily.
Additionally, staying on top of this is just as important for smaller mass people and women as it is larger frames because the limiting factor is carb absorption.
Important to Balance Sleep, Fuel, and Gut Tolerance
If you suffer from stomach discomfort from eating too close to exercise, then you will usually benefit from eating further from the event. This may be worth shaving a little extra time off the sleep so that you can ensure a happy gut. While sleep is vital, a little extra time may make the difference in your ability to perform 100%. If this is not an issue, enjoy more time in bed and fuel as needed.
If you struggle to stomach food before a race even with a significant time gap, try liquid forms of carbohydrate instead. This may not be the most appetizing but it will provide a safety blanket for GI comfort and a successful, smooth start to your event. Adding something like a bottle of Maurten, Skratch Superfuel, NeverSecond and/or smoothies to your morning may help ease the pressure.
Foods to Avoid or Limit
Certain foods increase likelihood of stomach discomfort during a race, like fiber. Fiber takes longer to digest, which means it can be still sitting in your stomach on the starting line.
Carbohydrates with lower GI index usually are higher in fiber. Wholegrain bread, bran flakes, rolled oats, muesli, rye bread are all examples of this.
Also, a high fat breakfast is conducive to similar issues, as fat breaks down over a longer time frame. Some items to avoid: bacon, sausages, cheese, pastries.
Gastro-intestinal Issues During Exercise
If issues arise, backtrack to take a look at your breakfast for the standout items. I’s recommended to reduce fiber, fat and protein (short term of course). Reducing lactose containing products can also be linked to stomach issues.
Even with no food intake, GI issues can occur. On event day, rise in stress hormones, heightened anxiety, and the intensity/duration of exercise can all play a role, too. If anything, keep it simple!
Practice, Practice, Practice
Like training, it’s important to practice your race day breakfast both in terms of content and timing so you aren’t trying anything new on race day. Practice well in advance of big race – use your protocol during key training sessions of similar intensity and length to the upcoming race.
Race day breakfast examples
Here are some practical examples that you can mix and match to fit your preferences in order to make up the perfect pre-race breakfast:
- Toast, bagels or crumpets with toppings eg jam, peanut butter (smaller amounts), Nutella (smaller amounts). Choose white bread if you struggle to digest high fibre foods.
- Porridge with toppings eg peanut butter (smaller amounts), jam, fruit compote, fruit, honey.
- Fruit-based smoothie with oats in.
- Cereal bars – these could be homemade to meet your preferences, or shop bought.
- Overnight oats.
- Bowl of cereal – lower fibre options include Cornflakes, Rice krispies, Special K, Cheerios.
- Fruit salad.
- Homemade rice cakes, or a bowl of rice with honey.
- Banana with peanut butter.
- Banana pancakes – you can add toppings eg honey, yogurt, cinnamon, fruit.