Whether you’re prepping for a morning marathon or a late afternoon race, what you eat for your race-day breakfast is one of the most important decisions you will make that day. Your race-day breakfast should fuel you for maximum performance. But it should also include easy-to-digest components to prevent tummy trouble when the pre-race jitters kick in.
What Makes a Good Race-Day Breakfast?
Glycogen store replenishment. One major role of the pre-race breakfast is to help replenish liver glycogen stores. Your glycogen stores have been depleting overnight. Getting a fresh boost will help to ensure steady blood sugar levels on race day.
This meal should be made up mostly of carbohydrates, your body’s preferred source of fuel that’s also easily digested. A small amount of protein, around 15 to 20 grams, can also be useful in curbing hunger later on during the race, according to Runner’s World. However, keep fats to a minimum as they take a long time to digest, and avoid too much fiber, which could cause gastrointestinal upset during the race.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends getting in your pre-race meal 3-4 hours prior to the gun. Here are three awesome pre-race breakfast options recommended by Ironman.com. Choose the breakfast that you tolerate best, and pair it with 12 to 20 ounces of water.
Breakfast 1: Cereal and Applesauce
This quick breakfast is low in fiber and easy on the stomach. It’s especially ideal for a nervous runner or triathlete. Start by filling a bowl with 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce, which gives you 46 grams of carbs and 166 calories. Pour 1 1/4 cup of a crispy rice cereal into a separate bowl, topping it with 2 tablespoons of protein-rich peanut butter and a tablespoon of honey, and eat up.
The whole meal includes 98 grams of carbs and 548 calories.
Breakfast 2: Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes
If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or any food sensitivities, this option can help you avoid mid-race gastrointestinal symptoms. It’s also the ideal breakfast if you have gluten sensitivity or are prone to heartburn.
Prepare quinoa according to package directions to produce 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa. Prepare a cup of sweet potato according to your preferred cooking method, such as baking or steaming, and serve it on the side drizzled with a tablespoon of olive oil.
The entire meal includes 81 grams of carbs and 545 calories.
Breakfast 3: Loaded Oatmeal and Eggs
If you aren’t prone to pre-race nerves and tolerate most foods, prepare 1 cup of cooked oatmeal, and top it with one sliced banana, 1 ounce of raisins and 1/2 ounce of walnuts. For a rich source of protein, boil or scramble an egg to serve on the side.
The whole breakfast comes to 526 calories and just over 80 grams of carbs.
Each of these carb-rich pre-race breakfasts can provide the energy you need to give your best during your race. But keep in mind you can adjust the calorie and carb count depending on your tolerance. If you’re really feeling queasy on race day, go for a liquid breakfast such as a smoothie or sports drink. As long as you’re giving your body the energy to power through until snack time.
Races possess many facets, your fueling is just one of them. But fueling incorrectly will leave you “bonking” somewhere before the finish. That, or you will be sending the breakfast back up if you over-consume.