Optimal Nutrition Series: 24 Hour Meal Plan
Scenario: You have eight hours… two days… three days… one week… to prepare for an event…
What do you do to make sure your energy levels are up, and you’re on top of your game?
The answer to that question forms the basis for a brand new series titled “Optimal Nutrition,” where I give you everything you need (nutritionally speaking) to make sure you’re on top of your game at your next event – whether it’s a race or an afternoon ride with friends.
In the first installment of our series, we talk about what you should do when you only have a day to prepare for your ride or race.
The Goal for The Day Of The Event
Let’s pretend you only have 24 hours to prepare for an event. In that situation, there are two goals you should aim to accomplish:
- Achieve and maintain high energy levels throughout the day.
- Avoid eating excessive amounts of processed sugars and carbs.
Guidelines To Achieve Your Nutritional Goal
- Eat every 2-3 hours. Eating more frequently will help prevent your blood sugar levels from both spiking and dropping too rapidly. Significantly high and low blood sugar levels lead to a lack of focus and energy on the track or trail.
- Consume more fat. Fat is your key source of sustainable energy during an event. For that reason, you need to ensure your body has enough of it going into the event. Without sufficient fat stores, your body will rely on carbs for fuel – which will burn out much faster. From the moment you wake up, fat consumption should be a major focus of your diet. When I say fat, I don’t mean a plate of bacon; I mean healthy fats, Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated.
- Eat more complex carbs. What’s the difference between pasta and a candy bar? While both are carbs, one (whole grains, veggies, legumes) is loaded with complex carbs, and the other (candy bar) is loaded with simple carbs. Complex carbs burn much slower and produce energy at a steadier rate. Simple carbs burn fast and cause blood sugar spikes. 95% of your carb intake on race day should come from complex carbs.
- Avoid processed foods. Processed foods are breeding grounds for simple carbs and sugars – both of which are responsible for spikes in blood sugar levels and decreased performance on the track. Stay away from heavily processed foods – even seemingly “healthy” options – on race day.
- Load up on carbs 30-60 minutes before an event. This is where you can slip in some simple carbs in the form of a candy bar or energy bar (preferred). This will give your body that jolt of energy and alertness at the start of the race, while your fat and complex carb stores will sustain it throughout.
Sample 24 Hour Meal Plan Before You Ride
If you follow the guidelines above (in addition to drinking plenty of water throughout the day), your body will be equipped with the fuel it needs to perform as optimally as possible on the track.
A sample 24 hour meal plan will look something like this:
Sample Meal Plan The Day Before
Breakfast (7 A.M.):
- Slice of whole-wheat toast w/peanut butter
- Three whole eggs
- One medium-sized apple
Snack 1 (9 A.M.):
- Cup of yogurt
- Handful of almonds
Lunch (11 A.M.):
- Sirloin steak
- Steamed broccoli
- Brown Rice
Snack 2 (2 P.M.):
- Granola Bar
- Fresh Fruit (Banana)
Dinner (4 P.M.):
- Baked chicken thighs or legs
- Pasta w/marinara sauce
- Salad w/oil-based dressing and avocado
Snack (7 P.M.):
- A handful of nuts or seeds
- Ants on a log (celery w/peanut butter and raisins)
Day of Ride:
- Oatmeal w/pecans and berries
30-60 Minutes Before Event:
- Energy Bar
- Turkey Sandwich
If you have any questions or anything to add, please leave them in the comments or on our FaceBook page!