Carbohydrate Recommendation for the Night Before a Race

What are your carbohydrate recommendations for the night before a big ride or race? 

It‘s important to think about the timeline of digestion in this scenario. It only takes refined carbohydrates ~15-60 minutes to be digested and hit the bloodstream. Then, they‘re stored. If your glycogen stores are not fully replenished, they can be stored there. But, for most athletes who haven‘t just ended a training session, glycogen stores will already be filled to their limit. So, any extra carbs will be stored in the cells as fats – which can be used in long endurance workouts, but do not have any advantage over whole, healthy carbohydrate sources.  So, instead of ―quick-energy carbs the night before a race, go for lower-glycemic, whole-food, healthy ones. Their slow digestion and even energy will be more likely to give you usable, efficient fuel the next day.

Many athletes grossly overeat carbohydrates the night before.  Sometimes, this is not a problem.  Other times, it can leave them feeling “heavy” going into a ride.

I recommend ~30 extra grams of carbs at dinner the night before.  Some examples include ½ medium baked yam, 2/3 cup cooked wild rice, 1 cup whole grain pasta, 2/3 cup cooked lentils or beans (if you digest them well without a lot of extra gas!), 1 cup whole grain cereal, etc.

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.