Whilst carbohydrate loading is important – I’ve done the research to show that people who carbo-load maintain pace better during the London Marathon – the whole premise creates really poor nutrition habits. Fatigue, bloating and lethargy typically result from consuming large amounts of carbohydrate in a short amount of time. Runners tend to assume that it means eating the largest bowl of pasta for their evening meal, adding half a loaf of bread, and a pudding for good measure. This is NOT good practice. The day before a race is all about carbohydrate loading, but eating 4-5 meals in that day as opposed to 3 will help, by spreading the carbohydrate intake. Steal a little bit more food at every meal, use drinks or smoothies to prevent bloating, but above everything, you shouldn’t feel full, bloated or stuffed.
Gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort includes cramping, nausea, bloating, vomiting, and diarrhea. There are a number of factors that cause GI distress, and typically it is a combination of these factors that causes the problem. Reducing your intake of high fibre foods such as broccoli and whole grain carbohydrates, fatty foods and meats such as beef and pork before competing helps to minimize GI distress.
Carbohydrate loading is a strategy used by endurance athletes, competing in events lasting longer than 90 min, to maximize the storage of energy in the muscles and improve performance. Eating 5-6 carbohydrate-based meals for 2-3 days prior to racing will boost stored energy. Tortillas, pitta bread, porridge, bread, pancakes, bagels, yogurt, and juice are all easy to digest options. Foods high in fat and fibre take longer to digest and should be limited at this time.
Foods to eat 60 min before exercise include high glycaemic index carbohydrates and drinks. Fruit smoothies, fresh fruit juice (350ml), bananas, low fat yoghurt , fruit bread (2 slices Soreen), small jam sandwich on white bread , energy bars and sports drinks are all great choices. Avoiding snacks high in fibre and fat is essential. Some of you may find avoiding diary helps settle your stomach and avoid feelings of being bloated.
Foods to avoid before exercise include fat, fibre and protein. Fat takes a long time to digest, and fatty foods delay emptying of the stomach. Avoid foods such as fast foods, fatty meats and dairy products and baked goods, which are typically high in fat. Fiber delays stomach emptying, and it can cause stomach cramps if you eat too much fiber before exercise. Protein takes a long time to digest, so eating a high-protein meal right before exercising is not recommended