Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Nutrition for Better Performance: The Pre-Workout Meal

I am going to start this post with a couple of questions:
  • Do you have a pre-race meal that you eat?
  • Do you have a pre-workout meal that you eat?
  • Are they the same?
A couple of weeks ago I had a client who decided to go on his endurance ride in the evening and the last time he ate was breakfast in the morning.  When he reported his ride back to me he stated he felt a little tired.  He then explained the didn't eat because he wanted to burn more fat during his endurance ride in order to lose a little weight.  Does that sound like anything you have every done?  I would have to say that most endurance athletes have thought along those lines before.

Back to my originally three questions on this post, do you have a standard meal for training and racing?  Again I would probably say that most racers do have a standard for pre-race but not for pre-ride.  Why?  I would guess it is for the same reason we swap wheels to race, it makes us faster.  We want to be as prepared as we can for the race and that usually means not playing around with our diets and eating something that we know will work for us.  Then why not do the same thing for training.  The point you really need to focus on here is what is the goal of your training session.  It should never be the goal of training to go out and bonk.  Therefore your pre-ride diet should be as important if not more important than your pre-race diet.

Let's say your coach has given you a ride for the day that included some sprints in the early part of the ride and then a tempo and endurance segment at the end for a total of 2 1/2 hours.  If you chose not to properly eat and during the form sprints you completely exhausted your glycogen stores and had nothing left for the remainder of the ride, did you get the most out of the workout.  Come race day, will you be the best prepared.  The answer of course is no.  If you don't properly prepare and take every training session seriously you won't get the most out of your training.

What I attempt to do is to fuel myself about 2 hours prior to the start of my training session.  This then requires planning of my day.  This meal or snack that I will eat prior to my ride will be about 200-400 calories depending on my ride I have planned.  Now I am not much of a calorie counter so I may be slightly off when it comes to this.  The goal though is to eat enough to fuel me for at least and hour ride.  Anything more than an hour and I am eating while riding as well.  Don't think that if you are training for 3 hours that you need to eat 3x the food.  You want most of the food out of you stomach prior to riding.  Otherwise it will just sit in there as blood is diverted to the working muscles.

A typically pre-ride meal will consist of food from the moderate glycemic index.  This could be fruits, oatmeal or my favorite Shredded Mini Wheats.  The idea is to create insulin release to store the sugars as glycogen but you don't want to create a spike that would occur with high glycemic index foods.  I will also usually add a little protein in for good measure.

A typical breakfast for a morning ride (410 calories):
  • bowl of Shredded Mini Wheats with Skim milk ( 340 calories)
  • Beet Juice (70 calories)
This is usually eaten 2 hours prior to riding.  If I am feeling a little hungry before leaving I will eat a banana.  The cereal gives me a lot of good carbs that are moderate on the glycemic index.  The milk will give me some protein.  I use skim milk to keep the calories down.  The beet juice, well the reason for that may be for another post.  Now I am good to go and will be ready to accomplish the goals of my workout.

What is your pre-ride meal?

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