Whether you are an experienced racer, or just starting, here are some nutrition tips to get the maximum priming for a race, from Active.com
In the 48 hours before the race, give yourself enough time to sleep. You need to eat properly, hydrate well, and sleep well and long enough in the days leading up to a race. This assures your glycogen reserves are full.
Then the day of, starting with the most important meal of the day: Breakfast! Make sure you eat enough protein to keep you satisfied, and enough carbohydrates so that your body has some fuel to burn as you pedal faster. You’ll want to eat three to four hours before the race, so you have time to digest.
Then in the 90 minutes before, you should concentrate on FOUR things:
Hopefully you have been hydrating in the days leading up to the event. You should also have been observing your sodium intake and lightly salting your food. This will help retain your body’s fluids.
You can tell if you are quite hydrated if you are urinating large amounts of light-colored diluted urine.
It is so important to be properly hydrated for a race. It’s OK to start riding with a slight distended belly from fluid. Cyclist author writes, “It’s like having another bottle in your pocket; instead it’s in your belly.” Just make sure you’ve practiced starting that way while you train, before you try it on the day of.
Because you’ve eaten breakfast three-four hours ago, you might be getting a little hungry within 90 minutes of the race. Your fuel choice should be mainly carbs. This snack will increase the delivery of carbs to the muscles when you exercise. Low fat, lower fiber bars are the best choice. Good pre-race snacks include sparks drinks, potatoes, rice bars, bananas, dates, bread with jam, or juices.
Some athletes experience “reactive hypoglycemia” if they eat within 75-minutes pre-event, which causes feelings of fatigue and low energy. If that happens to you, here are some suggestions: 1) eat your pre-race carbs in the last 5-10 minutes before you start riding. 2) Try to stick to lower glycaemic index foods in the last hour, to reduce risks of high plasma glucose. 3) eat fructose or a combination of carbs other than glucose.
Caffeine has been proven to help improve performance. It might be because of the stimulant properties so it can reduce the perception of effort, or because it increases the breakdown of fats, or because it increases excitability of the muscle fibers, or a combination. Whatever the reason, it has been shown to work!
Caffeine can be found in other places besides coffee: teas, cola nuts, tablets. Blood levels rise and peak around 60 minutes after ingestion. So you should ingest your caffeine an hour before the race begins.
The recommended dosage is 3-6 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. Do not overdose on that amount, because it won’t do you any more good.
This new discovery in ergogenic aids has taken the cycling world by force. Beet juice is a super tonic that can improve your oxygen efficiency. Which means you can go the same distance on less oxygen–what an incredible substance right?
Studies are still being done on when the perfect time to ingest it would be. It has worked from 2.5 hours right up until 30 minutes before the event. The recommended dose is 500 ml of beet juice before your event. There is also a Beetit Sport Shot which has 70 ml (and does not create the same mess in the kitchen!) Like anything else we’ve recommended, try out the beet juice in training before the day of the race.
If you add these ideas to your nutrition plan, you’ll be in great shape for the upcoming race (at least nutritionally). All you have to do now is keep peddling fast! Good luck in your racing endeavors!
Image courtesy of freshtopia.net