I have since learned the importance of proper pre-race fuel and how it directly affects my endurance. Now, before my morning workout, I consume a meal or smoothie that consists of easily-digestible simple carbohydrates, like dates or bananas.
Dates are especially high in glucose. Glucose is a natural sugar that quickly converts to glycogen, the main fuel for our muscles. The results were nothing short of incredible. Immediately, my endurance increased and I could complete my run without feeling sluggish. I even increased my mileage.
If I plan to exercise for longer periods of time, I add a bit of plant-based protein, fat and fiber to my meal. These additions slow the rate of carbohydrate absorption, which allows me to work out much longer without refueling.
More: How to Fuel From Offseason to Race Season
For pre-race meals, I prefer to stay away from most complex carbohydrates, as I find them difficult to digest. They also induce cramping and fail to give me the energy I need throughout my workout.
Many athletes recommend eating foods like bagels, breads, and pasta as a means to fuel their workout, but these are known to cause inflammation and ultimately reduce performance because our system is working too hard to digest them.
More: 5 Digestion Tips for Athletes
Complex carbs like bread and pasta are a poor pre-race choice for those who are gluten-sensitive. These foods also have a very low pH, which makes them acid-forming. Overall, it is better to choose foods that are easy on your body and provide an alkalizing effect.
Whole, plant-based foods fuel workouts due to their nutrient density. Our bodies thrive on micronutrients and macronutrients, both of which are found in plant foods. Antioxidants also play an important role.
Exercise creates stress upon the body and an increase in free radicals. Therefore, phytochemicals and antioxidants are needed to combat these issues. These required nutrients are most abundant in plant foods like fruits and vegetables.
My favorite pre-race meals come in the form of smoothies and raw energy bars. They are fast, easy and provide all the good stuff I need to power through vigorous exercise.