What should I eat for breakfast on race day?
If you have a competition or a morning training session, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You should, however, choose what you eat carefully to avoid digestive problems that might undermine your performance.
Firstly, on a race day, it’s not wise to improvise. Test your race-day breakfast before a training session. That way, you can be confident that what you eat is right for you and you will have clear idea of how your body will react once you start exerting yourself. This first meal of the day will be your last before your race or competition. It will recharge your batteries after a night of fasting, restoring your blood sugar levels. Without it, you will have to dig into your reserves as you exert yourself… and tire more quickly. That, in a nutshell, is why you need to strike the right balance in what you eat in the morning before exertion.
When should I eat my breakfast?
In other words, how long before I start exerting myself should I eat? Answer: Apply the famous three-hour rule in all cases. Whether it’s an ultra-trail race or a 10k, eat at least three to four hours before the start of the competition. This is a hard and fast rule. You need to eat long enough before the start of a race to digest properly. When you digest, your body redistributes your blood in much the same way as it does when you are exerting yourself. If you exert yourself as you digest your body diverts your blood to your muscles and you could end up feeling pretty sick pretty quickly.
What to avoid!
Certain mistakes should not be made before a race. As a result, certain types of food are off-limits. Avoid anything that is too sugary, too fatty, too sour or too rich in fibre. Foods that are more difficult to digest can upset your digestive system. In some cases, they may also serve no purpose before a race!
What should I eat?
Firstly, drink a lot of water to give your body the essential minerals it needs ahead of any exertion and to hydrate the muscle fibres thoroughly. Most forms of cramp are due to poor hydration.
In general, an athlete needs complex carbohydrates, proteins and mineral salts before a race.
Here are a few foods types that are suitable for breakfast before exertion:
– A hot drink to hydrate you: tea slightly sweetened with honey is better than a coffee. Avoid caffeine before a race. Limit your consumption of theine, the stimulant in tea;
– A fresh fruit for vitamins and fibre: perhaps a little mixed fruit salad with several of your favourite fruits. Banana, rich in potassium, comes highly recommended;
– A dairy product for protein and calcium: opt for plain soft white cheese (fromage frais or fromage blanc) without sugar;
– Proteins to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates: perhaps a slice of ham or a hard-boiled egg;
– Grains: the main role of the cereal product is fuel for the body. Bread, muesli, crackers or even rice, couscous or pasta are widely recommended breakfast items. How much you eat is key. After this breakfast you should feel satisfied but not full. That would sug gest that you have eaten a bit too much. If you start to feel weak during the race, make sure you have a cereal bar or an energy gel with you to give your body what it needs. There’s no point eating too much at breakfast. Whatever happens, it’s always best to listen to your body and repeat what has worked in the past. If, for example, eating gingerbread before a race works for you, don’t
hesitate to eat it.
Now you have the key to eating properly before your competition. Good luck!