Why You Shouldn’t Wing Race Day Nutrition

In Nutrition by Steph Saullo0 Comments

If I had a nickel (do people use those anymore?) for every time someone came to me/I heard about/I read about someone who wanted to try something new for their next race or competition, I wouldn’t be writing this post. If you have ever heard me speak about nutrition and sports performance, you have heard me say that it takes practice. Your nutrition plan is just as important as having the right equipment, strength training to get stronger, improving your endurance, etc. Showing up to a competition without a nutrition plan is just like forgetting your cleats (or insert other important piece[s] of equipment here). I get it, there are a plethora of sports nutrition products on the market and many times when you arrive at an event you are handed a goodie bag of new and promising foods. You just show up and you are handed performance nutrition in a bag, so why not give any one of them a try? Well, some of the most important reasons why you should just hold off until next time–you might poop your pants or vomit or gag or feel nauseous and who wants to experience any of those things before they try and win? OK, I may be a little dramatic, but it is quite possible that you may have an adverse reaction to something new before engaging in strenuous activity so it is in your best interest to leave new stuff to practice. Additionally, you cannot rely on your hunger or thirst to fuel/hydrate a successful race.

Where do you start to build a game/race/competition day plan?

  1. Build a solid nutrition foundation for every day. You might have a solid race day plan, but if your daily nutrition sucks, it might not help you win. Ensure your daily diet is full of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, good fats, and whole grains with adequate fluid before focusing too much on race day.
  2. Assess the length of your event. If you will be engaged in actvitiy for more than 60-90 minutes, you need a nutrition plan for during the event. If the event is less than 60 minutes, then you will rely on what you eat before the event.
  3. Assess the starting time. If the start time is super early or earlier than you are accustomed to, you may have to reassess what you eat before the event or when you need to wake up in order to get in ample fuel.
  4. Will you be participating in multiple events? If your race day is something like a swim meet with multiple events, you will need to think about food for in between events.

There are many factors to consider but in general, here are some ideas for during your event:

  • Gus/chews
  • Fruit snacks or fruit leathers (you know the glorified Fruit-Roll-Ups™, although those work too)
  • Fruit (like grapes, raisins, and other small-easy-to-chew fruit)
  • Cereal or granola bars
  • Powders mixed with water (or juice, depending on tolerance)
  • Wafer snacks
  • Sports drinks (storebought or homemade)

If your event will last longer than 2-3 hours you may also require fuel sources that include protein.

For multiple events, snack and hydrate in between each one. For events that are closer together, stick with snacks that are predominantly carbohydrate. Some ideas:

  • Sports drinks
  • Fruit
  • Cereal
  • Bagels
  • Cereal, granola, or protein bars
  • PB and J sandwiches
  • Pepperoni rolls
  • Protein powder mixed with water, milk, or juice
  • Pre-made shakes (with protein)

Regardless of your choice(s), you want to experiment and practice, practice, practice BEFORE game day, not on game day. If you choose not to, don’t say I didn’t warn you about the possibility of pooping your pants.

Of course, I can help you build a nutrition plan for your next competition. If you want more guidance, check out Athlete Nutrition Rx. There you will find new meal planning templates, recipes, video Q&As, other bonus material, and access to me. Athlete Nutrition Rx is performance nutrition information you can trust. It’s about science, not fads. We embrace a food-first philosophy without restrictions. There are no “good” foods or “bad” foods nor do we instill an “eat this, not that” approach. Optimize your performance by signing up for your free trial today. http://rittersp.com/nutritionrx