Every runner knows that the night before a big race, you’re supposed to eat a giant bowl of pasta…right? Wrong.
You can\’t completely fill your muscles with glycogen from just one meal, “which is why you should start carbo-loading two or three days before your race,” says Monique Ryan, R.D., author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes.
Here are four other rules of carbo-loading you need to follow to run your best:
KEEP TOTAL CALORIES IN CHECK
Starting two to three days before your event, 85 to 95 percent of your calories should come from carbs. You\’re not eating many more calories per day than you were during the thick of your training—it\’s just that more of those calories are coming from carbs.
AVOID FAT AND PROTEIN
Both nutrients fill you up faster than carbs and take longer to digest, Ryan says. Pick jam—not butter—for your toast, tomato sauce in lieu of alfredo sauce on your pasta, and frozen yogurt instead of ice cream for dessert.
Not all carbs are created equal. Tortillas, oatmeal, bread, pancakes, waffles, bagels, yogurt, and juice are all easy-to-digest options.
DON’T FORGET TO FUEL
Even if you carbo-load properly, you still need to take in midrace fuel (such as sports drinks, gels, chews, and candy) to keep your energy level high.
Tell us: What’s your favorite food to eat in the days before a race?