By Julie Cornelius, MS
Ever wonder what you should eat in a race to stay well fueled to the finish line? What about eating during regular rides and training rides? You are not along when it comes to wondering about these things. In working with numerous athletes with Potential Energy Training & Nutrition, these seem to be the questions I get asked the most. Read on to find out what foods to eat and some tips for what to eat before during and after rides and races.
What to eat for rides and training
Let’s talk first about what to eat during your training rides, because my number one rule is to not try anything new in a race that you haven’t tried in training! Make sure to test out all of the foods you will have during your race in training rides that mimic the race effort. That way, you won’t end up finding out the hard way mid way through a race that a certain food doesn’t agree with your stomach.
When you are riding, you are using a combination or carbohydrates and fats. Since our carbohydrate stores are limited, we want to focus on replacing them to keep energy levels high. Our body can only digest a limited amount while we exercise, so its important to start off well fueled and consume enough (but not too much!) to keep the engine running.
Try to eat at least 2 hours before you ride to fully digest the food you eat. Some suggestions of foods to eat before a ride:
- Oatmeal with berries and nuts
- Muesli with almond milk and dried fruit
- Fruit smoothie with almond milk and peanut butter
- Yogurt with blueberries and pumpkin seeds
As for eating on the bike, the goal is to keep our energy levels as steady as possible. For this reason, I like to skip the high sugar foods that tend to spike our blood sugar levels and can lead to a resulting energy crash. Instead, try:
- Dried fruit
- Fruit and nut bars
- The Feed Zone rice cakes
- Peanut butter wraps or sandwiches
I like to break up larger items into small pieces for easier eating and digesting! A sports drink is an important addition to help replace electrolytes on a ride over an hour and a half, or even on shorter rides if its really hot and humid.
Race Day Nutrition
On race day, stick with your tried and true foods that you have tested out on your training days. Pick your favorite breakfast and make sure to eat it at least two hours before the race starts. I recommend creating an eating plan for during your race so that you don’t have to think about what to eat when (this is something I do for the athletes I work with). Stick to the foods that you have tested out on your training rides.
Don’t forget about recovery!
Recovery is an important part of both training and racing. The ideal time to eat is within 30-60 minutes. This is when your body is best able to replenish those carbohydrates that you have used. Aim for a meal or snack that is mostly carbohydrates, with a little bit of protein. The protein helps your body to better absorb the carbohydrates. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day as well to stay well hydrated!
Hopefully this has helped you to feel much better prepared for what to eat during that upcoming race! If you have any other questions, don’t hestitate to email me at email@example.com.
See you at the Beti Bike Bash!
Are you registered or thinking about riding in the upcoming Beti Bike Bash in Castle Rock, CO on June 19th?
We have created an easy to follow 4-week plan just for you – to help you prepare for this amazing event!
Julie Cornelius, MS is Co-founder of Potential Energy Training & Nutrition. She has an extensive background in nutrition and graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ with both her Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science in Nutrition. She has worked in fitness studios helping clients achieve their nutrition goals, spent two years teaching college nutrition courses, and was the founder of Julie Bar, an energy bar company. Julie is a long time cyclist and mountain biker who loves being outdoors. Julie helps individuals to meet their nutrition goals, whether it is eating to win an endurance mountain bike race, losing weight, or just eating to be healthier.