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.
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.