In every sporting industry there has always been a lot of "Do's and Don'ts" when it comes to dietary intake, and more specifically, what to eat before the event or training session. What most us need to do, is take into account a holistic approach to our food intake. Maintaining a healthy diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, fibers and carbohydrates is not just essential to your sport, but essential to a healthy lifestyle. Our regular diet needs to be seen just as important as what we consume before a big ride or event. The major source of fuel for muscle activity is carbohydrates which gets stored in the muscles as glycogen in the days before exercise.
Too often, when we refine our dietary intake to maximize our energy output and performance, we remove some of the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for good health, which our bodies need to combat the flu's and colds. This is seen too commonly in the elite sports arena when an athlete gets knocked out for the count by a simple cold or flu.
What to eat before your ride needs to be seen as an opportunity to top up the "quick burn" energy sources. The energy used by the body is simple sugars called saccharides, and the more complex the sugar molecules, the longer your body takes to break them down. So eating a plateful of carbohydrates (complex saccharides) just before your ride will sit heavy in your gut and potentially give you cramps, nausea, and ultimately you'll throw the whole lot up.
The Australian Institute Of Sport has an excellent article on this topic, and has outlined some great suggestions on what to eat before exercise:
Food eaten before exercise should provide carbohydrate. It should also be low in fat and moderate in fibre to make digestion easier and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort. For most exercise sessions, the emphasis on carbohydrate and fluid for the pre-event meal. However, it is also useful to continue to consider other nutritional goals when choosing a pre-exercise meal. This may mean including foods that include protein, vitamins and minerals.
The following foods are suitable to eat 3-4 hours before exercise:
- crumpets with jam or honey + flavoured milk
- baked potato + cottage cheese filling + glass of milk
- baked beans on toast
- breakfast cereal with milk
- bread roll with cheese/meat filling + banana
- fruit salad with fruit-flavoured yoghurt
- pasta or rice with a sauce based on low-fat ingredients (e.g. tomato, vegetables, lean meat)
The following snacks are suitable to eat 1-2 hours before exercise:
- iquid meal supplement
- milk shake or fruit smoothie
- sports bars (check labels for carbohydrate and protein content)
- breakfast cereal with milk
- cereal bars
- fruit-flavoured yoghurt
The following foods are suitable to eat if there is less than 1 hour before exercise*:
- sports drink
- carbohydrate gel
- sports bars
- jelly lollies
* A small number of people experience an extreme reaction following the intake of carbohydrate in the hour prior to exercise. Please exercise caution when doing this.
For the Full AIS Article: Click Here