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Pre-Race or Pre-Game Meal

It takes a lot of energy to power your muscles for an athletic competition. Research from the University of North Carolina shows that you should eat your prerace meal as close to your event as possible, as long as your stomach is empty when you start. For most people that's about three hours before the event.

Your brain gets its energy almost exclusively from sugar in your bloodstream and your muscles don't contract effectively when your blood sugar runs low. There is only enough sugar in your bloodstream to last three minutes, so to keep sugar levels from dropping, your liver release sugar from its cells. But your liver stores only enough sugar to last 12 hours. Eating fills your liver with sugar. If you eat six hours before you compete, your liver will already have used up a major portion of its stored sugar, so you want to fill your liver with sugar as close to your event as possible and leave your stomach empty. That's two to three hours before competition. You don't need to eat sugar; your body converts any type food you eat to sugar for energy.

DM Maffucci, RG McMurray. Towards optimizing the timing of the pre-exercise meal. International Journal of Sport Nutrition, 2000, Vol 10, Iss 2, pp 103-113 Address: Maffucci DM, Univ N Carolina, Dept Exercise & Sport Sci, Chapel Hill,NC 27599 USA

Checked 8/31/08

May 12th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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