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4 Foods to Avoid on Race Day

Nov 19, 2010

Doing well on race day depends on many variables, many of which are out of your control (such as the weather or your competition). What you can control, however, is the fuel you put in your body on race day. Having the right pre-race meal will help, rather than hinder your performance. As a general rule, it will take you one hour to digest every 100 calories you eat. For example, if you have a bowl of oatmeal containing 200 calories, you will need approximately two hours to digest it and use it for fuel. On race day, there are many foods that you should avoid. These foods will either slow you down or upset your stomach:

Meat

Meats are the first food that should be avoided on race day. Meats, especially breakfast meats, like sausage and bacon tend to have a high fat content. Because of their high fat content, meats take longer to digest and pull blood toward the stomach, which can result in stomach cramps. Additionally, meats tend to be high in sodium, which can leave you feeling dehydrated if you consume too much.

Eggs

Eggs can be part of a healthy diet, but not on race day. Eggs take too long to digest and they are often cooked with butter and topped with cheese, which will slow you down. On race day, you will want to eat carbohydrates that are easily digestible. Save the eggs for after your race.

Waffles

Many people think that because waffles are a carbohydrate, that they should eat them on race day. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that more carbohydrates are necessarily better for you or that they will improve your performance. Instead of eating waffles, try a granola bar or a cereal without much sugar. For optimum performance on race day, you want to find the right balance of eating just enough to sustain you, but not so much that you become too full and lethargic.

Pastries

If you think you can eat pastries like scones or doughnuts before a race because you will be burning many calories, think again. Elevating your blood sugar too much will lead you to crash before the race is over. If you want to indulge in this kind of sugar, wait until after the race. A better bet would be to eat easily digestible fruit, like an orange or a banana, or a carbohydrate that will replenish your glycogen stores, like a whole wheat bagel.  

Whatever you decide to eat the morning of race day, make sure you have had it before so that you can know how your stomach will react. Make sure that you have had the food before running too. Everyone reacts differently to foods, so make sure you experiment before race day.

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