Q: What is good to eat for breakfast before a meet? My son is 14 years old.

A: Each person has individual tolerances and preferences as to the timing and consistency of pre-race meals. Time of competition makes a big difference when it comes to breakfast before a track meet. If he eats breakfast before the bus leaves at 8 am, but doesn’t run until 2 pm there is a big window of time that will require additional fueling. Here are some pre-race fueling guidelines.  

Eat familiar foods 1-4 hours before race time. The closer he eats to race start the less volume and less complex he should eat. A less complex meal would be low in fat and fiber and moderately low in protein. Aim for carbohydrate rich choices like bagels, waffles, toast, and oatmeal. A basic carbohydrate guideline is to eat about 50 grams of carbohydrate for each hour before the race start. For example if he eats at 8 am for a projected race time of 10:30 am, a simple breakfast of a banana, medium bagel, 2 T. strawberry preserves, and a trail mix bar would provide about 600 calories,125 grams of carbohydrate, 13 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fat. Including more fat and protein with options like milk, yogurt, peanut butter, or cheese may make the meal more satisfying. If he prefers such options they may be better tolerated in smaller portions or with a longer window of time before race start.          

— Jackie Dikos, R.D.

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