What to Eat Before an Endurance Race

So you’ve decided to tackle an endurance race—maybe a marathon or half marathon, maybe a triathlon, century ride, all-day hike, or some other multi-hour effort. Of the many tough decisions you’ll make that day, one of the first is: What should you eat for breakfast?

There’s only one right answer, in a sense, and that is: Whatever you practiced during your training. Race day is not the time to try anything new, because you’ll be living with the consequences for several (possibly agonizing) hours. Still, you have to start somewhere, so here are some of the things you’ll want to keep in mind to prepare the best breakfasts.

Source: What to Eat Before an Endurance Race

Here are the rules that can’t be stressed enough:

  1. NO SURPRISES ON RACE DAY.  That includes finding out what type of gels or drinks they might be handing out. Find out in advance, try out in advance.
  2. It’s very personal.  Some like gels, some do not.  Vice versa.  There’s no wrong answer, just what works for you.

For me, gels take a while to kick in.  And it really depends on what what I’ve eaten and how soon.  Which is great – knowing that, I can take one before getting in the water so it hits when I’m on the bike.  But I was finding myself quite parched when I got to running – and it’s been hard to drink water while on the run.

Your mileage may vary 😉

How to Eat Healthy in a World Filled With Processed Food

Picture a wholesome meal: lots of veggies, maybe some pastured meat or free-range eggs, lovingly cooked at home from scratch. Do a quick count of how many of your meals from the past week looked like that. Close to zero? You’re not alone.

Our world is full of processed food, for better or worse. It’s easy to sit at my keyboard and tell you to avoid it and eat foods in forms closest to how they are in nature: apples, not apple pie. But just because something is “processed” (whatever that means) doesn’t automatically make it bad for you. It’s time to lose the guilt and own up to eating processed food sometimes—and maybe we’ll see it’s not that bad.

Source: How to Eat Healthy in a World Filled With Processed Food

Eating healthy can be more expensive than just eating whatever is out there. Sure you can sign up for CSA shares, and grown your own stuff, but in an apples to (organic)apples (ha!) comparison, expending the same amount of personal effort, it pays to shop around.  Part of it can be just adjusting foods to lifestyle – some stuff can expire before you use it.  That’s what made incorporating fruit/vegetables difficult for me, then I wanted to eat something else which made the problem worse.

These Fast Food Options Can Fit Even a Healthy Eating Plan

It’s great that fast food chains have detailed nutritional information for all to reference, but the issue is that these charts are often deliberately buried on websites and can be cumbersome to read. One blogger has compiled a master list of the “best” fast food options from major chains, with their macronutrient values, for our convenience.

Source: These Fast Food Options Can Fit Even a Healthy Eating Plan

It happens – you get stuck somewhere, can’t get what you need.  It’s OK to have a cheat meal, or “fail” on your diet occasionally – there can be benefits.

What “Net Carbs” On Food Labels Actually Means

 A myriad of low-carb products are marketed as having “zero net carbs”, but a closer look at the nutrition label reveals most of the “cancelled” carbs to be from dietary fiber or sugar alcohols. What does this wizardry mean for calorie and carbohydrate counters? Not as much as the marketing would have you believe.

Source: What “Net Carbs” On Food Labels Actually Means

Net carbs is vastly more important to read that total carbs. The tortillas I buy are about 22g carbs, 6 net carbs. Eating two or three makes all the difference between having an elevated blood sugar, or up 100 points for a few hours.

You Need to Burn 7,000 Calories to Lose a Pound, Not 3,500

You’ve probably heard the number-one “rule” of weight loss: It takes a 3,500-calorie deficit between calories consumed and calories burned to produce a one-pound drop in body weight. This old chestnut is more than 50 years old. Problem is, it’s wrong.

Source: The Biggest Weight-Loss Myth Revealed

Is the reverse is true? Would it take more than 3,500 extra calories to equal a pound gained?

Nutrition Information Isn’t 100% Accurate…but Don’t Worry About It

Whether you’re a keen shopper, a health-conscious parent, or an athlete training for a specific fitness goal, chances are you’ve looked at a food label or two, right? You probably check the total Calories per serving of many foods you eat, taking comfort when you make clean choices. But have you ever wondered how the caloric value of your food is determined?

Source: How Accurate Are Calorie Counts?

This is to address the anal retentiveness that some people can develop with tracking calories. It’s important to know how much you’re taking in on a daily basis for weight management, but it’s just as important to avoid striving for perfection with it—just as long as you are close enough.

How to Properly Carb Load Before a Race (If You Even Need To)

Ahh, the pre-race pasta dinner. It’s not just an opportunity to bond with fellow athletes, it’s also the last remaining excuse to think of spaghetti as health food. Carb loading isn’t necessary for everyone, but if you’re one of the people who will benefit, it’s time to learn the right way to do it.

Source: How to Properly Carb Load Before a Race (If You Even Need To)

Since Allen Lim’s food science wizardry, even the Euro cycling pros are eating more rice than pasta these days.  Don’t think I’m saying this being anti-gluten crazy, organic, artisanally harvested rice by cage free workers (humor, come on), but that exercise diets have changed a WHOLE LOT in the past seven years.

It’s very interesting to hear the 1.5 hr recommendation – that means a good portion of people doing sprint triathlons do not need to carb load.  But everyone is different – I recently rode 140 KM with someone who had to consume gels/etc every hour or so, and they still had trouble after the 100 KM mark.  They have less body fat than I do, but I also wonder what their carb intake is like.  As always, see what works for you because we’re not all the same.

The Difference Between Various Kinds of Protein Supplements

Flip through any exercise magazine and, judging by all the attention protein supplements get, it appears protein and fitness somehow go hand-in-hand . And it is true: Protein can help promote a healthy weight and help muscles recover after a good workout. But what exactly is protein, and when it comes to supplements, which type of protein is best? Read on to learn about the different sources of protein powder and which ones stand apart from the rest.

Source: The Ultimate Guide to Protein Supplements

Because isolates are further processed to remove sugars (like lactose), carbs & fats so isolates are good for those who are lactose intolerant.  But pointless for everyone else, and does not digest faster.  Concentrates still have sugars, carbs, and fats. And typically taste better than isolates.

The article incorrectly states that lactose is indigestible for some, but it’s not because it’s an allergen. It is still an allergen, but the reason for it being indigestible is a lactose intolerance, not a milk allergy. Both casein & whey, regardless of concentrate or isolate form, are allergens.

Casein is grittier tasting compared to whey. Casein also takes longer to dissolve, and makes your shakes thicker compared to what an isolate would.

How to Count Macronutrients Instead of Calories for Better Diet Success

If you’ve ever read a fitness blog, forum, or even Instagram, you’ve probably heard the term macros thrown around. Short for “macronutrients,” it refers to carbs, fats, and proteins—the three basic components of every diet. If you get their proportions right, it makes dieting a lot more effective when simple calorie restriction fails.

Source: How to Count Macronutrients Instead of Calories for Better Diet Success

How to Avoid the Dreaded “Carb Coma”

Carb-heavy meals are notorious for making you hungry and cranky later in the day, not to mention gaining weight. But if you really want to eat your pasta and potatoes, you can make the meal easier for your body to deal with by adding other food to it. Pancakes and bacon are a better bet than pancakes alone.

Source: How to Avoid the Dreaded “Carb Coma”

Related read: If I Eat Steak then Pineapple – Which is Digested First?