For a lot of the mountain bike riders I work with, racing season is getting started. While training plays a huge role in how you perform on race day how you fuel up plays a big role as well. How you eat the hundreds of days that you aren’t racing makes the biggest difference but race day nutrition can make or break your performance as well.

Coconut water is fantastic for this because it will provide you with natural sugars and electrolytes, without all the chemicals, etc that come in something like Gatorade.

Making sure that you have the right foods to prepare for, power and then recover from your performance can be the difference between a satisfying weekend and a lot of frustration. One of the riders I train at my facility was going to his first race last weekend and wanted some advice on what to eat on race day to maximize his performance. My wife Kiele (who is the nutrition expert in the family) sent him this email and forwarded it to me so I could share it with everyone here…


Contrary to popular belief, “carb loading” starts about 48 hrs prior to race day. Your dinners should include lean protein (fish, chicken, steak, etc.) with a big salad and as many veggies as you can handle, with some sort of carbs (brown or whole grain rice, whole grain pasta, etc.)

For breakfast, avoid the simple carbs (you should have filled your glycogen stores previously) and go with something with lean protein (eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.) and fruit or veggies. If you do some sort of carbs, make sure they’re complex (like oatmeal or sprouted grain toast or just the fruits and veggies should do). Don’t do carbs in the form of regular bread or cereal.

During the day, have an electrolyte drink handy. Coconut water is fantastic for this because it will provide you with natural sugars and electrolytes, without all the chemicals, etc that come in something like Gatorade.

If you’re not into coconut water, then I’d encourage you to check out your local health food store for something that they carry that provides electrolytes without the additional crap ingredients. Just make sure that you do this several weeks prior to race day, so that you can make sure that it is something that your system agrees with. Nothing like trying something new on race day, only to find out that it doesn’t work, and doesn’t work in the worst possible way…

It’d also be good to have a carb and protein mix like ProGrade Workout to sip on throughout the day as well. Something like vanilla protein powder and oj mixed together, or even Chocolate milk works well for this as well.

That way you’re replacing the glycogen for energy, and protein as well.

As for lunch that can be put into a cooler, I’d say make a protein shake in the morning and drink that. It’ll be lighter on your stomach and provide you with the nutrients to feel strong throughout the day. You may want to make a few of these to have throughout the day.

A great recipe that I use is

-1 banana

-Scoop chocolate or vanilla protein

-Frozen blueberries (or other frozen fruit)

-Use orange juice (or other fruit juice) or milk (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk) as the liquid to mix.

You could also make a big salad to take along as well.

-Kiele Wilson-

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