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Best Foods for Competition

What are the best foods to eat before an important race?

It doesn't make much difference what you eat before athletic competition, as long as it's not in your stomach when you start. It takes about half an hour to empty your stomach after a meal, so you should eat about one to three hours before your event.

Your brain gets almost all its energy from sugar in your bloodstream, but there is only enough sugar there to last three minutes, so your liver has to constantly release sugar from its cells to keep you alert. Your liver fills with sugar after you eat and releases sugar afterward. If you start an athletic competition more than three hours after you eat, your liver will have used up much of its stored energy to tire you earlier during exercise.

Scientists used to recommend avoiding sugar within three hours before competition because they thought that it would cause a rise in blood sugar, to raise blood insulin high enough to cause a low blood sugar and tire you earlier. This does not happen to athletes. Now we know that it doesn�t make any difference whether you eat fat, protein or sugar before your competition.

Checked 9/29/08

May 11th, 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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