Pre-event and race nutrition (also relevant for long, intense workouts)

As promised during our discussion after the Zwift Women’s Team Championships, here are general guidelines for pre-race nutrition. As I mentioned at the end of that post - also relevant to bring it here:

Some of you ran into trouble during the race for not eating enough before and during the race. In some cases, the calories consumed before the race (from breakfast to race time) was so low, these riders started the race already depleted.

Here is what I had before the race (I weigh 120 lbs):

My race was at 1:30 PM local time - 190g of carbs, 55g of protein
Breakfast: oatmeal with maple syrup and 20g whey protein mixed in
Early “lunch”: 2 Kodiak waffles, 2 eggs
Snack before race: 1 Bobo’s bar, a bit of chocolate and a few gummies

No amount of mental grit and determination can overcome lack of energy availability.

How much food do I need?

As with any guidelines, adjustments might be needed to your personal needs (everyone is different…). This is typically done by following the guidelines and tweaking as needed based on the results you get. Nevertheless, I have found in my own experience that these guidelines are close enough.

  • Please refer to Table II in this study for the recommended amount of carbs, not only for races but also training days:

  • Another relevant study with a nice summary explaining why carbs are important. This study also mentions using protein. I typically recommend consuming protein along with the carbs before the event and during (when the event is longer than 90 minutes).

Note that these are just some of the studies- there are countless more with the same or similar conclusions, but these have a good summary and are somewhat reader-friendly.

Other references

This is a nice visual from the United States Olympic Committee Sport Dietitians and the University of Colorado (UCCS) Sport Nutrition Graduate Program:

Here is the link to the source page, with plates for non-training and moderate training days:

Also Relevant: aim for a mixture of glucose and fructose when choosing carb sources for increased performance.


@Coach_Theia i :heart: kodiak cakes!! I make them almost every weekend and have used some of their recipes for quick pre-ride workout bites


@Reneea2002 you might be interested in the above…

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I am willing to give it a try and see how it goes. Yesterday and today i cut some protein and added in some quinoa. Im curious to see if i notice and difference and how long it would take. Its not a huge amount of carbs but its something.

Quinoa also has some protein. Look for some smart carbs like beans, lentils, if you like those.

Thank you! I will check into those too.

What recipes do you know for the Kodiak mixes?
This is great information. I feel like there is so much out there about NOT eating and I just wonder how on earth people who don’t eat have the energy to work out hard.

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@stacypro i have made this one and had 1 or 2 (I end up with 18 per recipe not 12) but i suggest not putting in the garlic if you intend to use it as an early morning pre-workout treat

They have other great ideas under recipes on their website

Another one I’ve done, because i love my instant pot, is to make pancake bites with the kodiak cake mix - i use usually 3 as a pre-workout treat

And i stumbled across this while having my multiple Gail days last week - lots of hallmark movies and the today show - you see why i Zwift? I need to redeem my habits :joy: I’ve done 1/2 a serving as a pre-workout treat the past 2 days and it seemed to work well for the bike WO and my personal training session this morning

I really like this Instant Pot recipe! Will try it @PaleGail!

We don’t have a silicon mold but I bet I could get these to work in the oven with muffin tins. It says water varies. Is the idea to use the same amount of water that you would if you were making a batch of pancakes?

@stacypro yes its whatever the ratio of mix to water/milk is for making regular pancakes - for the buttermilk mix, its 1-to-1 i guess there are some mixes that are not 1-to-1 I found the pumpkin flax i could go with slightly less water - i love my kodiak cakes!

I wish I had read this article before my race today instead if after. I was 1.5 miles from the end of my team time trial and had to send the team on without me. There was nothing left in the tank. I have been beating myself up all evening for not having the mental fortitude to stay with the group until the end. After reading the article, I did not even come close to consuming enough pre-race.


Yes, it makes a big difference. And often times when we don’t have enough glycogen we start having negative thoughts, even before the legs give out.

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@kellynoelharman yeah - it takes a bit to figure out what works pre-ride/race, and then you add the time of day to that - but I think most of us have found that nothing pre-ride/race = not so good :confused: i vary based on the expected time to ride, what kind of intensity i think it might be and the time of day, e.g. if I do a 75-90 min workout after work, i usually do 2 tbsp maple syrup with Skratch hydration which has some carbs for the WO. If its 1st thing when i get up, i will do kodiak cake waffle or something with a bit more carbs + a little maple syrup and i try to wake up and do that at least an hr ahead. I’ve never been a fasting WO except maybe for strength at the gym but I have really noticed the impact the few times I tried it sans eating pre-ride.