Pre event Nutrition

Hey everyone.
I’ve searched the forum but haven’t found the response I was looking for, I am sure this has been done to death and I have Heard Coach Chad discuss this but cannot find the episode.

I am looking for the information relating to meal timing pre-event, Specifically a Fondo 100+ miles (150kms).
The podcast had some great info in relation to nutrient absorption, insulin response and early feeding. During the event I am good, I can tolerate 80-90g of Carb per hour and continue to fuel until teh last 30mins.
Trying out SIS Beta Fuel for the first big event this Sunday. Yes, I’ve used it in training.

Hope ya all can help out.


General rule of thumb for races is either 2 hours before the start or within 30 mins of the start. If you’re trying to make a selection early on in the race pop a gel about 15 mins prior to the start with some caffeine.

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I’ve never heard that and I believe the 2 hour mark is about the worst time to eat. The general consensus is 3-4 hours before the race (solid foods) or 5-10 mins before (simple sugars, gels, gummies or liquid fuel).

The goal of pre-exercise or pre-race nutrition is to top off your liver glycogen. To accomplish this you don’t need to eat a big meal as some would have you believe. A pre-workout or pre-race meal of 200 to 400 calories of complex carbohydrates is sufficient. You can’t add anything to muscle glycogen stores at this time, so stuffing yourself is counterproductive.

Assuming you have fueled properly the night before and the morning of your race, your body has adequate amounts of glycogen. You have a build up a 60 to 90 minute reservoir of muscle glycogen, the first fuel your body will use when the race begins. A way to deplete those hard earned glycogen stores too rapidly is to eat a meal an hour or two prior to the start of the race.

If you are going to have a meal the morning of your race, it is recommended to eat an appropriate amount of calories, not overdoing it, and finish our calorie consumption at least three hours prior to the start of the race. If that is not logistically feasible due to an early morning start, have a small amount, hundred calories, easily digested complex carbohydrates 5 to 10 minutes before the start. Either the strategies will help top off liver glycogen stores, which again is the goal of pre-exercise calorie consumption, without negatively affecting how the body burns it’s muscle glycogen.


Eat a frickin TON of carb food the day before. Like instead of a bowl of oats have 3 large bowls. Instead of some rice have 3 portions of rice. Eat half a loaf of bread, wash it down with carb drinks. Get so you are sick of carbs and just crave a salad.

Then 2 or 3 hours before the race eat a very carb laden breakfast: 2 or 3 bagels, squirt half a tube of honey in your mouth. 3 bananas, an energy drink, and an energy bar, and why not another one for good measure on the start line.

Then start eating 20 minutes into the race and keep eating regularly into the end. Then start eating to replenish, (with some protein now as well)

I couldn’t disagree more with all of this advice.

Don’t go overboard with your food consumption the night before a big race. Adhere to these rules; eat clean, no refined sugar, skip dessert or eat fruit, low to no saturated fats and no alcohol. Secondly, eat until you are satisfied but not more.


Everyone is VERY different when it comes to digestion and ability to process food. You can canvass people here and get a huge variety of responses - all of which might work for them and fail for you. Basically - you have to try these things and figure them out for yourself.

Below I’ve listed my general approach that works very well for my typical event which is a 2.5-4 hour road race with some very high intensity work and a lot of threshold work. It is very different from how I prep for a shorter event like a crit or a time trial

Two days before - decrease fat consumption and increase carb consumption - maybe overeat my total daily calorie goal by 250-400 calories

One day before - similar to two days out, but eat maybe 400-600 more calories than my goal

Day of - eat like normal but add in a very carb centric meal around 3 hours before the race starts. For an 11 AM race start I’d eat a normal breakfast (mix of carbs and protein) whenever I got up - 6 or 630 and then a carb meal (oatmeal, sweet potatoes, some light protein) totaling another 500ish calories around 8 AM.

One hour before start - eat a bar

5 minutes before start - eat a banana and have some caffeine to it’ll hit my body before the race starts to get hard

I then start eating in the race maybe 15-20 minutes in - if it is starting easy I’ll have solids (bars/chews) until it starts to liven up a bit when I’ll switch to gels for the rest of the race (adding in caffeine gels from 1 hour on). I make sure I eat at least every 30 minutes but will eat more if I’m capable and the race pace permits it

This is what works for me and is not optimal for everyone else. I have a fairly tolerant stomach and do fine with things in my stomach for these types of efforts but others might fail

Semi-related - I also ignore the ‘stay away from fiber before races’ guidance because I eat very high fiber at all times and have never had an issue during a race. Without getting too graphic - I almost always empty myself out 2-3 times before a race so the amount of fiber doesn’t really hurt me during races


On a pre and/or post Leadville 2018 podcast(s) Nate talked about his fueling strategy. Check on SoundCloud as it lists the topics and links to start playing at that section of the podcast.

Some of the topics inside a podcast have been converted to short YouTube segments. Have a look at that too.

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2 hours is the minimum time before the start. Obviously a bit more time is better but for most gran fondos the start is early enough that eating 3-4 hours before isnt always practical unless you want to sacrifice sleep. 30 mins vs 5-10 is kinda splitting hairs. The main thing is to avoid the 1 hour before race window when you’ll have the largest insulin response just as the race starts making you lethargic. Coach Chad has outlined this on at least a few of the podcasts

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Here is what I do.

nutrition: 3 to 4 hours before the event consume 1.5 to 2 grams/kg carbohydrate meal. I like oatmeal with fruit and brown sugar.

15 minutes before the event consume a gel. So ~20-25 grams carbs.

Hydration: 16oz liquid 1.5 hours before event.
8oz liquid 30min before event.

For most seasoned cyclists, the number one pre-race concern is number two.


Thanks bbarrea i’vebeen using spotify. it doesnt show the breakdown of each podcast. Looks Like i’ll be switching.

@MI-XC so the challenge I have is the event starts at 0630am, I could rise at 0230 eat and go back to sleep. wake at 0500 travel to the event start and snack again (eg Gel) at the start line. The event is expected to take a min of 5 hrs so I am nervous to NOT eat a real meal before the start.
In the past, I’d just rise and at as late as I can before having to get to the event. But I am wanting to do things hopefully for the better.
thanks for the advice…

Those might only be available in a web browser, this is what I see on web browser Soundcloud:

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thanks mate I’ll check it out either way…

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Do not sacrifice sleep for breakfast. The purpose of a pre-race meal is to top off liver glycogen stores. Assuming you had a proper recovery meal after your last workout, then fueled properly the day and night before, muscle glycogen remains intact overnight. During sleep, your liver-stored glycogen maintains a proper blood glucose level and you expend near to none of your muscle glycogen.

You might wake up feeling hungry, but you’ll have a full supply of muscle-stored glycogen. Your stomach and mind might be telling you “I’m hungry, need food for a big race!”, but your muscles are ready to go. Hunger is not a performance inhibitor and you can, and should, begin fueling as soon as you start the race.

However, if you eat within a couple hours, one can expect negative effects on performance because it doesn’t allow enough time for adequate digestion, absorption and the blood glucose regulation system to normalize. Eating too close to the start of the race can cause the following; rapidly elevated blood sugar causing excess insulin release leading to an abnormally low level of glucose in the blood; high insulin levels inhibit lipid mobilization during aerobic exercise, which means reduced fats to fuels conversion; and high insulin level will induce blood sugar into muscle cells, which increases the rate of carbohydrate metabolism, which means rapid carbohydrate fuel depletion.

This is the general concensus on fueling for longer events. Plenty of people will say they eat 1 or 2 hours before and it has “worked” for them. But what their saying is that what they did or do allows for adequate time for digestion and they have no stomach distress or poop issues. Which is great, but it doesn’t mean they’re optimizing their nutrition pre-race. Their is a great deal of varying opinions on what nutrition is best when you actually eat on the bike, but that is something you’ll have to experiment with for yourself and that’s a whole different discussion.


@MI-XC thank you that lines up with the information I thought I heard on a podcast with @CoachNate and Chad. Which is why I wanted to get some clearer information in this and try it out. I intend to fuel with 90g per hour starting within the first 20mins.
This strategy is already messing with my mind as it feels opposite to what I am programmed to do normally. makes me feel nervous just thinking about doing a 5+ hr event without a meal prior.
Essentially pre-event nutrition really beings 48hrs before the event NOT 3-4hrs when looking at it this way.
Thanks again

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I’m curious. Would like to continue this discussion. What is your educational background/training?

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Not in nutrition or sports science, lol. Sorry I won’t be able to debate or provide exact links, studies, etc. It’s just based on my extensive self study over the past 2.5 years and personal experience. I’m always reading and learning and consistent themes appear. There is a lot of bad old school thinking and advice that exists in endurance sports, not to mention confusion on what’s “best”. Although what is right today can be proven wrong in the future, but science seems to point to some truths.

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Okay I’ll keep it short and sweet. There are some things you shouldn’t eat 1-2 hours before a race like bacon or huge omelet, but if that is the window you have there are a lot of easy things to top off your glycogen stores without causing gastric distress, ie things similar to what you are already going to be eating during the race when your gastrointenstinal system is already under maximum duress. Just look up the glycemic index of items and that will give you an idea of how fast they will be processed and absorbed and how fast the insulin response will be and how fast it will drop.


Redlude97, I know I am not a nutrition authority but this was my concerrn and what I took from the bit of infrmation I had on this subject.
If solid meal is consumed say inside 120mins from start time. There is potiental for insulin response to inhibit the relesae of muscle/liver glycogen when required. Also that it may impact the ability to use ingested gylcogen early on in the event.
Thus the need for such a meal to be had 3hrs prior and a quick shot on the start line. I am nervous about the no major meal the morning of an early start.
My experience at a fondo last year was regular meal, museli dried fruit greek yogurt, coffee and some toast. All consumed 90mins prior to start time. I also had a bannana 5 min before. This all caused me to have an avaiable blood sugar crash some 15mins after start. Then for the rest of the ride I played catchup and suffered dramatically with loss of power and RPE.
This also MAY have occured again several years before at a major event in Australia Called Peaks Challenge (240km with 4000m vert). I had one of the worst days on the bike right from the first climb 20mins into the day.
So I am looking at strageties and ways to remove this and possibly improve peformance.