Endurance Sports Myth: Pre-Race Meal

I ran across an interesting blurb from a Hammer Nutrition publication that’s worth mentioning. The article outlines a pre-race nutrition strategy that runs counter to a lot of the current “conventional wisdom” of getting up extra early and having a bagel, banana, and peanut butter prior to your big event. Here is the info:

Pre-race fueling must be completed at least 3 hours prior to the start to allow adequate time for insulin and blood glucose to normalize. Eating within 1-2 hours of a race start promotes faster depletion of muscle glycogen and inhibits fat utilization. If your race lasts longer than 60-90 minutes, this combination of accelerated glycogen depletion and disruption of your primary long-distance fuel availability will devastate your performance.

If you have an early morning race start, don’t sacrifice sleep to get up and eat! It’s completely unnecessary because muscle glycogen stores remain mostly intact until you begin exercising.
Instead, sleep as long as you can, fast until 5-10 minutes before race start, and then consume a small amount of fuel (such as a complex carb energy gel). Then begin normal fueling as soon as you can after the race begins.

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