How to Build a Balanced Meal Plan for Race Season

Nutrition plays a role in performance and recovery—two critical components of a successful and long-lasting race season.  

Selecting the right foods—particularly ones that have the right amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat—to meet your macronutrient and energy needs will ensure that you're replenishing glycogen stores and are able to build and repair tissue. Fat intake should also be sufficient to provide the essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins you need.  

Not all carbohydrates, protein and fat are created equal. Learn which foods are the right ones for endurance athletes. 

All About Carbs

The body uses carbohydrate to make glucose, the fuel that gives you energy and keeps you going.  Your body can use glucose immediately or store it in your liver and muscles for later.  You find carbohydrate in fruit, vegetables, dairy products, breads, cereals and other grains as well as foods containing added sugar.  

More5 High-Carb Super Grains and Recipes for Athletes

It's best to focus on fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, low fat/nonfat dairy and limit foods with added sugar. Choosing the brightest colored fruits and vegetables throughout the day will give you a great start to preparing your body for race season.  

Here are some other ways to incorporate healthy, energy boosting carbohydrates into your day.

Breakfast: Fiber-rich oatmeal is a great way to start your day off on the right foot.  One cup of cooked oatmeal is a good source of healthy carbohydrate, provides about 4 grams of dietary fiber, and meets 10 percent of the daily value for iron.

Lunch: Whole wheat bread is the foundation for building a healthy sandwich. Including whole wheat bread in your nutrition plan will provide you with fiber, important nutrients such as selenium, potassium, and magnesium and the complex carbohydrate your body needs to get you through the afternoon.

Check the label before you buy bread. The first ingredient listed should be "whole wheat" to ensure you are truly eating a 100 percent whole wheat bread.   

Dinner: After a long training session and full day of work, brown rice will provide you with the carbohydrate your body needs to replenish and refuel for the next day. 

A half-cup of brown rice contains about 2 grams of fiber and small amounts of B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, B6, folic acid, and niacin). B vitamins help your body get and make energy from the food you eat and helps to form red blood cells. 

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