Avoid These 5 Race-Day Breakfast Mistakes to Finish Strong and Fast

Avoid These 5 Race-Day Breakfast Mistakes to Finish Strong and Fast

There are mornings for soldiering through a few hours of intermittent fasting, but unless that's a tried and true method for your body, race day morning shouldn't be one of those mornings.

For immediate and long-lasting energy to start strong and power you through, you need a good mix of nutrients like carbs, protein, and fat — in the right ratio — to boost satiety and endurance. In order to know what to eat on race day, here are five breakfast flops to avoid so you can cross the finish line. 

What to Eat on Race Day to Cross the Finish Line Strong

Race-Day Breakfast Mistakes

1. Eating Something Brand New

The most important sports nutrition rule is that you don't try anything new on race day.

Related: This Is How Leaky Gut Syndrome Directly Affects Your Workouts

“Even if it's a meal your friend eats or you read an athlete eats it, that doesn't mean it will sit well with your body and help you perform your best,” Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, says.

Everyone is different, so test-drive the meal before one of your harder training workouts to see how your body responds. Then, you can either enjoy it or pass on it on those mornings that matter most.

2. Going Low-Carb and too High in Protein

Protein is important for recovery, but eating too much of it for breakfast on race day won't help you much.

"In fact, it may sit in your stomach and convert to usable energy very slowly during the race,” Jones says. 

Related: These Are the Best and Worst Carbs to Eat on Race Day

Carbohydrates are the quickest and most efficient source of fuel for the muscles — especially at high intensities — and they will support your central nervous system while racing. So when thinking of what to eat on race day, add protein if you want (yogurt or something small) but definitely don’t feast on steak and eggs.

3. Eating Lots of Fat

Like protein, fat shouldn’t be your go-to fuel on race day morning.

“Fat digests slowly and may linger in the stomach, increasing chances of gastrointestinal upset,” Jones says. “While some fat from nut butter or avocado with oatmeal or toast is okay, high amounts of saturated fats in bacon and cheese are less likely to sit well."

Save the sausage and cheese omelet for post-finish. (It'll be more satisfying then anyway.)

4. Picking High-Fiber Foods

“Fiber is something I encourage any time of day except immediately before or during exercise," she advises. 'It's essential for gut health and all of its associated functions, but will sit in the stomach and other areas of the digestive tract, which can make you feel full and even lethargic."

Stick to just a smidge, such as the fiber in oats, toast, and nut butter, but skip anything bean or lentil-based, or any foods made of seeds such as chia, hemp, or flax.

5. Skipping It All Together

We get it. You’re not a breakfast eater. But on race day, that hardly matters. You’re going to need the fuel.

“When you wake up, your muscle energy stores are depleted, which means you'll start feeding off of blood glucose sooner while competing,” Jones says.

Related: This Is What Happens to Your Body If You Don't Eat After a Workout

Not big on breakfast?

“You still want to top off your energy stores with some carbs, even if it's as small as a banana a half hour before, or a tablespoon of honey 5five minutes prior to the race start,” she says.

Again, just be sure to test-drive anything you eat days and even weeks before to avoid a digestive disaster.

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