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Carbs for Pre-Fueling Success

Katie Breazeale, MS, RD, LD

Have you wanted to change up your fueling routine, or start a fueling routine, but was unsure where to start? Carbs are a great place to start when it comes to fueling for training/competition. They are your primary fuel source and can provide quick energy.

Glycogen, a form of glucose, is stored primarily in the liver and muscles. When we workout we use glycogen for fuel. Everyone has different amounts of glycogen stores.

Consider the 6 foot male with higher amounts of muscle compared to the 5 foot female with lower muscle amounts. These stores are limited and when we start to run out that’s when we see performance start to decline..

Adding carbs to your pre-fueling plan is a great way to give the body readily available energy while preserving those glycogen stores just a little longer. Depending on the amount of time you have will depend on how much to consume.

30 minutes doesn’t offer a lot of time before the event. With that in mind you want to look for foods that are higher in carb with low levels of protein.

Fueling Ideas:

1-2 hours allows a little more time for digestion with the focus being simple carbs that digest easily.

Fueling Ideas:

2-3 hours will look more like a mini meal. You have time to eat and digest more food at this point.

Fueling Ideas:

3-4 hours is adequate time to have a meal with carbs, protein, and healthy fats. The options are endless when it comes to having a pre-fueling meal.

Fueling Ideas:

  • Pasta with meat sauce, side salad, and garlic bread

  • Beef tacos with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and rice

  • Breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, cheese, and salsa served with fruit

  • Whole grain turkey sandwich with cheese and veggies, whole grain crackers, and fruit

  • Fish, sweet potato, salad with vinaigrette dressing, and fruit

There are certain carbs that we want to omit from our pre-fueling plan. Carbs that tend to be a little richer or heavier will be harder to digest thus needing to be avoided.

Fueling Pitfalls:

  • Donuts and pastries

  • Fried foods

  • Pizza

  • Guacamole and chips

Finding what works best for you can take a few test rounds. Always try new things in practice, not the day of competition. When you’re testing your plan try to pay attention to cues from your body if it is working and keep in mind if your plan can be on the go with you during competition.

  • How are your energy levels?

  • How is your overall performance?

  • Did your stomach tolerate what foods you chose?

  • Are the foods you chose now going to work if you travel for competition?

Check out the My Favorites tab to see my Pre-Fueling favorites.

If you need assistance building your pre-fueling plan, contact us! We work with all types of athletes and can help you find a plan that works best for your needs and goals.

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