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What Do I Eat Before a Triathlon Race?

Jul 20, 2020

A question I get asked frequently in the clinic – What do I eat before a race?

Generally, I'd suggest organising a specific RACE NUTRITION PLAN for your specific event as everyone is different, but here are a few general guidelines to help you get started...

Pre-Race Meal Timing - How long do you have?

What you eat before a race depends on how long you’ve got to digest and absorb it. If you have multiple hours (for e.g. Byron Bay OD which doesn't start to lunchtime), something heavier and more solid is probably going to be ok.

Compared to a shorter time-frame i.e. 1 hour or less, something smaller and easily digestible will work best. In saying that, everyone is different and you need to figure out what works best for you.

If you know you are a nervous racer and food sits in your stomach for a while, I'd suggest getting up a little earlier to ensure you have something to eat 2-2.5 hours prior to the race start.

Go for a smaller volume but carbohydrate-dense option like fruit toast with honey/jam. Or if you really can’t stomach anything solid, try a liquid meal such as my Carb Loading Smoothie or an Up and Go/ Sustagen Sport type liquid meal.  

What types of foods should you eat?

The pre-race meal is your opportunity to top up your fuel tank, fine-tune hydration and make sure your tummy feels comfortable.

The focus is on carbohydrate to top up muscle glycogen levels (the storage form of carbohydrate) after you've fasted overnight, ensuring this is low in fat and low-moderate in fibre to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal upset.

With the focus on carbohydrate and fluid, here are a few suggestions of things you could play with before racing:

  • Cereal with milk
  • Fruit and yoghurt
  • Toast, fruit toast, crumpets or English muffin with spread e.g. honey and banana, vegemite, peanut butter and honey or jam
  • Porridge with banana and honey
  • A liquid meal - Homemade smoothie, Up and Go or Sustagen Sport
  • Muesli bar and a glass of milk or juice

Experimenting to find the timing, amount and make up that best suits your individual needs is key. Once you've got your food nailed you can play with sprinkles such as sodium, caffeine, nitrate and other supplements to get the competitive edge!

The best place to practice is in training; Never try anything new on race day!

If you need help developing your Olympic Distance Race Nutrition Plan, do it with me from the comfort of your own home in my brand new online course!

Happy training 🙂




Tags: Brisbane Dietitian, Brisbane Sports Dietitian, Dietitian Approved, Dietitian Brisbane, Race Nutrition, Race Nutrition Plan, Personalised nutrition, Sports Dietitian, Sports Dietitian Brisbane, sports performance, Triathlon Nutrition, Pre-Race Nutrition, Pre-Race Meal


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