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Event nutrition: What to eat pre, during & post

The time has arrived, your event is here and all those hours training are about to pay off.

You can’t guarantee how well you will preform on the day but what you can control is your event nutrition, hydration and energy levels.

Getting your event nutrition right you will feel strong and have positive memories of the day.

The night before

The night before the event consume low fibre foods only, and the only time it’s not recommended to eat vegetables.

High amounts of fibre are not recommended as they may make you feel uncomfortable during your race.

Foods to eat the night before the race may include:

  • Rice and chicken
  • Pasta and mince beef
  • Quinoa and fish
  • Buckwheat noodles and pork

Don’t try eating anything new, choose foods you commonly eat.

The morning of the event

It is recommended you consume a light snack 2-3 hours before the race.

Snacks should include medium to high GI carbohydrates and a small amount of protein.

Here are some examples:

  • Raisin toast and low fat ricotta cheese
  • Toast, banana and honey
  • Low fat yogurt and fruit
  • Muesli and low fat milk
  • Baked potato and cottage cheese
  • Chicken sandwich
  • Fruit smoothie

During the race

For any sporting event that is longer than an hour in duration it is important refuel with carbohydrates during the race.

open-water-feeding-station
Open water marathon swimmers swimming through a feeding station.

The good news is that most ocean swimmer will complete up to a 2km ocean swim within 2-hours. Marathon open water swims incorporate feeding/rehydration stations into their courses to allow swimmers to refuel.

For any event shorter than an hour your stored glycogen and pre race meal is enough to fuel you throughout your race.

Post race meal

Yay you did it! Now before you get carried away with celebrating, its time to nourish your deserving body with a nutritious meal.

This is easy; just remember the same principles as post training.

You should aim to eat within 45-60 minutes post race.

Your post race meal is vital to repair muscles, refuel energy stores and support the immune system.

It is recommended you consume 1g of carbohydrate per kilo of body weight post exercise. Protein should be .25g per kilo of body weight i.e. an athlete weighing 70kg will need to consume 70g of carbohydrate and 17.5g of protein immediately post race.

Here are some examples of post race meals:

  • Porridge with mixed berries, maple syrup, 200g yogurt and milk
  • 2 thick grainy toast topped with banana, honey and ricotta cheese
  • Chicken and salad burger
  • Fruit smoothie with rice milk, banana, mango and protein powder.

First published in April 2013

Teresa Boyce

Teresa Boyce

Teresa is a sports and outdoors enthusiast and passionate nutritionist dedicated to helping others achieve real results.

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