The 5 Biggest Pre-Race Fueling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Solution: Avoid fat. Consume something that is nutrient-dense, but easy to digest. On the Nutrition Facts Label, look for less than five grams of fat per serving.

  1. Fiber Bars: Fiber is great for decreasing risk of certain diseases, maintaining a healthy GI tract, helping you maintain a healthy weight and more, but it's not something to consume within an hour of the event. Our bodies can't digest fiber so, until we can flush it through our systems with water, it will sit in the GI tract.

Since the body wants to be as efficient as possible, it recognizes this component and attempts to break it down to clean out the gut. As a result, you may experience cramping, bloating and other issues you do not want to occur at any time, especially during an event.

Solution: Go for low-fiber carbs such as a banana, crackers or pretzels. Aim for less than four grams of fiber per serving on the Nutrition Facts Label. These low-fiber carbs will break down by the time you start the event, maintain blood glucose levels, and be used as instant fuel, sparing glycogen (energy reserves composed of glucose that are used as fuel when needed). You will be well into the race before you need to tap into those energy reserves. No hitting any walls here.

  1. Protein Bar/Shake: Since our main source of fuel/energy comes from glycogen, which is a product of carbohydrates, consuming protein right before the race just doesn't make sense.

Solution: By eating an easy-to-digest carb 30 to 60 minutes prior to race time, glycogen will remain intact. You will be saving more energy for later in the event when you really need it.

A carb-heavy snack that includes some protein 90 to 120 minutes pre-race helps your body continue to use carbs as its primary fuel source, and avoid muscle breakdown.

More: Why Are Carbs Important?

  1. Not Eating: You may not be a "breakfast person," but research has shown that consuming even a little something pre-race will improve performance, provide extra energy, and save stored fuel for later. You don't need to eat an elaborate meal. Keep it simple.

Solution: While you're training your body for the event, you should also be practicing with foods and learning how they affect performance. Assess different foods during training. Number one rule: NEVER try something new on the day of the race, even if the people at the expo said it will improve your performance. Hey, we've all been tempted at times.

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