We asked professional running coaches what to eat before races. As usual, every trainer has its own opinion on this topic. You may read their answers and choose the options that seem optimal for you.
Opinion 1. Complex carbohydrates 2-3 hours before training
The meal before training should consist from carbohydrates. It is a fuel that provides our body with energy during the training process.
I recommend to eat carbohydrates with a low level of fiber before the workout. For example, various porridges on water, nonfat milk or yoghurt, energy bars, cereals and fruits, pasta. Some people prefer bread and flour products, but people who keep figure should avoid such foods.
The food you eat before the race should not contain any fat products, as they are hardly absorbed by the body and digest for a long time. Running becomes uncomfortable after such meals.
Dietary fibers that are contained in legume crops may cause spasms and bloat, so should also give them up.
I don’t recommend to train on an empty stomach. Such training won’t have the desired effect. You may feel bad, dizzy or even faint. However, you also should not eat too much, as it can cause stomach heaviness and pain in the side. You may feel seek while running. Your endurance and speed may also get low.
I recommend my athletes have a good meal consisting from slow carbohydrates 2-3 hours before training, or make a quick nosh with smoothie, fresh or dried fruits 30 minutes before the workout. One should note that the intensity of food digestion varies, so the optimal time of the meal before training can be defined only by you on practice.
As for drinks, I don’t recommend the excessive use of water before training. A great amount of water will overload vascular system, heart and kidneys. This is one of the reasons that cause you feel pain in the side during the race.
You should drink no more than 200 ml of water 30 minutes before training. Don’t forget to make small sips of water during training.
Opinion 2. It depends on the time of the workout
All depends on your personal preferences and the time of training. If it is in the morning, you should eat porridge or a toast, so you would not feel hungry during the race. It you train in the evening, it is ok to eat complex carbohydrates 2-3 hours before training (rice, buckwheat, pasta, porridge) with the light meat such as fish, chicken or with an egg. Don’t eat red meat before training, as it digests very slow and hard.
So, it should be made on a case-by-case basis. Find your way and use it. The main thing is to avoid fat, salty, or spicy food, and your body will return thanks with a great state during training.
For breakfast, I eat some porridge (4-5 tablespoons) 1 hour before training. In the evening, I prefer pasta and 2 eggs 2-3 hours before the exercise.
Opinion 3. Water oatmeal is the best for breakfast
Firstly, you should definitely eat before running. Nowadays it is a big trend, especially among young women, to run on an empty stomach, as it supposedly helps burn more fats. No, such a training will be undergrade.
If you train in the morning, the best breakfast is water oatmeal. You may eat a banana or a toast with cheese. This food digests fast, and you will be ready for the race in 30-40 minutes.
If you train in the evening, you better pay attention to your lunch. I don’t recommend to eat something fried or meat. You may eat soup, and complement it with fish or chicken. Such a meal will digest in 2-3 hours. If you eat a lot, your stomach will be busy for about 4 hours, and you may feel heaviness during training.
Opinion 4. Complex carbohydrates
You can eat anything you like. The body reaction on the food – that is the question.
It is recommended to eat products rich in slow carbohydrates: legumes, different cereals, whole grain products, vegetables and fruits. In this way, your body will get enough fuel for a long time, and you will be full of energy.
You should be careful with dairy products, some vegetables and fruits, and some other foods rich in fiber. Excessive use of such products can cause malnutrition during training. Ideally, you should also avoid tea and coffee before training. These drinks contain caffeine that is diuretic, and dehydration is an enemy of a runner.
The best time period between a meal and training depends on personal features. Choose best products for you, control nutrition and workouts, and you will always be in good shape in life and running.
Opinion 5. Simple carbohydrates and water
Before training you may eat simple carbohydrates and drink. Especially if you train in the morning, as in the night our blood curdles.
Fast carbohydrates are sweet. It can be a banana, water with honey, juice, a toast with jam or even candies. You need something that will get straight to the blood and will be burnt during training. You better eat about 100-200 kcal. Make sure you get rid of more calories than you ate.
Do not eat fiber, as such products need time to digest. Fatty food and proteins are also not good for the same reason.
Opinion 6. No fatty food
For training you need energy. The most efficient fuel comes both from slow and fast carbohydrates.
Before running your stomach should be empty! Any fatty food will take a lot of time to digest, so you may feel heaviness during training, and it will disturb your breathing.
You should better avoid any fatty food before the race. Opt for the classic: salad, pasta, different cereals, soups. If you are short of time, but you feel hungry, your secret weapon is a cup of sweet tee with a cookie or a cracknel.