By Mithia Mukutmoni, PhD
The big day is fast-approaching! What should your future Ironman-finisher eat (and drink!) before, during, and after the race?
- Children have special fluid needs. Make sure your child is properly hydrated a few days before the race. A great way to do this…is to monitor urine color. Urine should be pale yellow.
- Dinner the night before should focus on carbohydrates, moderate protein, and be low-fat. A great example would be pasta with vegetables and lean meat. The meal should not be larger than usual.
- An hour to 30 minutes before the race, have your child eat a light snack made up of easy-to-digest carbohydrates. Half of a plain bagel or a small banana or a small tangerine are a few ideas. Make sure this meal is low in fat, fiber, and protein as these nutrients take longer to digest and may slow down your athlete.
- For activities lasting less than an hour, a sport’s drink is not necessary for electrolyte replacement unless the temperatures are high.
- Have your child drink about 5-6 ounces of plain, cool water between each “leg” of the event, even when he/she comes out of the pool.
- Usually adrenaline will stave off hunger until after the event. but if a snack appears necessary, focus again on easy-to-digest carbohydrates. Half of a low-fiber granola bar would work well.
- First and foremost, the goal is to replenish fluids. Plain, cool water works best unless your athlete appears to have sweated profusely. A small cup of diluted sports drink might be warranted.
- Within 30 minutes after the race, have your child eat a balanced snack which includes protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Chocolate milk is a great choice and your child will love it!
- Two hours after the race, make sure your child eats a regular meal which includes foods from 3 out of the 5 food categories found on the new MyPlate food guide. A good combination would be to include a vegetable, a protein, and a grain. Visit www.choosemyplate.gov for more tips, recipes, and advice.
- Last but definitely not least…..make sure to give your child a big hug for their awesome accomplishment!
Written by Mithia Mukutmoni, PhD