Much like putting gas in a car, the fuel you put in your body can really affect your performance. What you eat before a mountain bike race can really impact your race effort. This article will discuss what pro mountain bikers eat before races and why. Still, this advice can also apply before a hard ride or workout.
Before The Race
Three to four hours before the start time of a race, you should predominately eat carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel your muscles need. Include small amounts of protein for increased satiety. Limit fat and fiber to ensure optimal digestion and minimize gastrointestinal distress. Pre-race, you want to choose more refined carbohydrates such as white rice or white potatoes. Limit vegetables to decrease fiber intake as well. Avoid spicy and acidic foods such as tomatoes because they may cause indigestion. Hydrate with not only fluids but electrolytes as well. (read the previous article).
Pre Race Meal Examples
- White rice with 2 eggs and soy sauce or salt and maple syrup (Emily’s favorite)
- Pancakes with 2 tbsp peanut butter and maple syrup
- Bagel with 2 tbsp peanut butter or 2 tbsp cream cheese and a banana
- Oatmeal with toppings of choice (Greek yogurt, nuts, raisins, banana, peanut butter)
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
30 Minutes Before The Race
Thirty minutes to an hour before the race, have a small carbohydrate-rich snack to top up. I often have a gel thirty minutes before race time. Other good ideas: a banana, a handful of jellybeans, Swedish fish, or Trader Joe’s Scandinavian Swimmers (another favorite of mine), dried fruit like mango or dates, or even a shot of maple syrup or honey.
Finally, you should always test drive your pre-race meal before a workout or even several rides. I can’t stress enough how important it is to not try something new on race day. You could be setting yourself up for disaster. So instead, try some different meal ideas out beforehand and then pick and stick with your favorite.
Emily is a Sports Dietitian who is passionate about helping others improve their health and athletic performance through proper nutrition. She races cyclocross professionally. She lives in Roanoke, VA with her husband Kerry and their beagle Sherman.
Get the email for busy mountain bikers.
Discover the best products + gear, and learn about deals from brands you love.