Timing is Everything


Timing is Everything

By Patricia Chuey, Senior Nutrition Consultant, SportMedBC


Rocky may have eaten raw eggs and used meat as a punching bag, but that’s not all his training had to do with food. On step 9 of our climb to victory, we look at getting enough fuel at the right times. In a pre-training meal or snack eaten one to two hours before exercise, emphasize easily digestible foods that are high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and lower in fat. Super high fibre is not ideal here. The more time you have, the larger volume of food you can eat and still have a settled stomach in time for exercising. For a typical lunch-sized meal, allow two to three hours.  


“Carb-loading” is a helpful strategy in the week leading up to the Sun Run. But remember that grain foods along with ALL vegetables and fruits are carbohydrates. By virtue of half your plate being vegetables or fruit in most meals along with protein and whole grains, you’ll be getting about 60% of your calories as carbs. Exhaustion in endurance events lasting over 90 minutes can be from depletion of the body’s carbohydrate reserves.


To achieve a carb intake to meet fuel demands, assuming you typically eat these foods, emphasize them in the final week before the Sun Run:


·       Whole grain-based foods (e.g. bread, crackers)

·       Rice, pasta, noodles and starchy vegetables

·       Breakfast cereals (cold or hot)

·       Fruits (fresh, frozen, dried or canned)

·       Beans and legumes

·       Milk, chocolate milk or non-dairy beverages containing protein and carbs


Here’s an example eating plan for a Saturday morning, 9:30 am training session:


·         Friday dinner: 1 salmon fillet, chicken breast or protein-rich veggie patty with grilled vegetables and brown rice, milk or soy milk and water to drink.

·         Evening snack: 1 cup blueberries or fruit salad with 1/4 cup granola and yogurt.

·         Saturday breakfast (8 am): Smoothie of banana, strawberries and protein like tofu, yogurt or nut butter and 1 to 2 cups water to drink OR a small bowl of cereal with 1/4 cup each of fruit and nuts.

·         During run: 3 sips of water every 15 to 20 minutes

·         Post-exercise: 1 small healthy muffin with peanut butter or cheese OR an energy bar, a handful of nuts and piece of fruit along with 2 cups of water.


On runs that you ace, jot down what you ate and drank. On the not-as-great runs, do the same. This helps pin down the foods that are optimum fuel for you. Now is the time to start planning precisely what your food intake will consist of on Sun Run morning. Don’t leave it until the Saturday night before. Before the run, or any important exercise session, eat familiar foods. This isn’t the time to try something brand new, even if it’s a healthy food.

Follow @patriciachuey on Twitter or find her at patriciachuey.com