Race Day Eats: How Whole Grains Can Help Push Your Across the Finish Line

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Jeff Sorenson, Guest Blog Writer

Training for a marathon is no easy feat. For most of us, it takes months of training, adopting a healthier diet, and experimenting with what foods work best for us individually when running long distances. But as race day approaches, what we eat and drink those last few days leading up to the race—and on race day itself—can become the difference between a new personal best and an all-out suffer fest.

The single most important factor to keep in mind when making a meal plan before a big race is glycogen. When runners talk about “hitting a wall” during a long-distance run, it means the glycogen stores in their muscles are depleted. Once glycogen stores are depleted, the body is forced to convert energy from fat, which is more difficult and takes more time. This is why it’s so important to keep your glycogen stores topped off before any long-distance race.

You’re probably wondering what’s the best way to load up on glycogen. Well, the best source of glycogen comes from carbohydrates. This is why you’ll often hear runners talk about “carbo-loading” the day before a big race, but it’s not enough to just eat a big pasta dinner the night before a big race. In fact, it takes several days of eating foods high in carbohydrates to get your glycogen stores where they need to be before a big race. It’s also important to remember that not all carbs are created equal. While refined grains like enriched white flour are a good source of carbohydrates and are easily digested, this also means your body will burn them faster than whole grains. Whole grains, on the other hand, provide a more long-lasting supply of glycogen making them the ideal fuel for endurance events.

Before you run out to buy a bunch of whole wheat bread, you should know there are some great-tasting sources of whole grains out there. Companies like Kodiak Cakes are making it easy and delicious to fuel up before race day with their Buttermilk Power Cakes Flapjack & Waffle Mix, convenient 100% whole grain muffin cups, and Oatmeal Unleased Cups.

Not only are these all great meal options for the days leading up to a race, but they also make great breakfast options for race day. To ensure your body has time to digest your meal before a big race, be sure to eat 3-4 hours before you start and remember to eat a meal high in carbohydrates to give yourself that last bit of glycogen to propel you over the finish line.

Don’t miss your chance to get a complimentary box of Kodiak Cakes Buttermilk Power Cakes Flapjack & Waffle Mix at the Health & Fitness Expo on April 25 & 26 at the Activities and Recreation Center, 201 East Peabody Drive, Champaign, where the expo takes place.