What you eat can spell the difference between a personal best and a personal disaster

By Armand Mendoza | Photo by Brian Chan/Unsplash

Although every runner is physically unique, there are some types of food that seem to cause trouble for a lot of runners based on scientific research, personal experience, and various testimonials. These foods are sneaky culprits and may tend to end up on an athlete’s plate thinking it would help them perform better on race day.


Some believe that nightcaps during race week or before race day helps lower race-day jitters and help you sleep better. However, alcohol is known to increase the rate of dehydration, drains out vitamins and minerals, lowers your metabolism, and may increase body fat.

Suitable alternative: If you want something to relax your body or help you sleep better, try drinking chamomile or jasmine tea. Warm milk also does wonders before bedtime in case you’re not lactose intolerant.

Oily Food

Many new runners think that going high-fat along with carbs is okay before race day because it’s going to be burned anyway. On the contrary, high-fat foods like deep-fried meat, nuts, greasy chips, and cheese-loaded meals are usually connected with indigestion problems and increased gas formation during race day. Unless you want to be a “smoke-belcher” during the race, you might have to re-think your oily choices.

Suitable alternative: Try eating steamed, boiled, or grilled fish, chicken or seafood. Choose lean cuts of beef or pork and avoid adding fatty sauces like gravy or butter.

Beans, Legumes, and Sprouts

Even if they are considered healthy in terms of nutrients, a lot of runners still testify to increased bloating and gas upon consuming these types of food. This is especially true if you’re not used to eating beans and legumes.

Suitable alternative: Go for green leafy vegetables and red vegetables like tomatoes and peppers.

Processed Food

Hotdogs, sausages, luncheon meat, and other types of food that underwent some form of chemical and physical transformation aren’t likely to be healthy and may increase the toxins inside your body. Most of these foods contain preservatives, food coloring, and other chemicals that may slow down or decrease your body’s efficiency to function properly especially on race day.

Suitable alternative: Go for the real thing like real beef, fish, chicken or seafood. If you’re looking for convenience, the contingency is canned food like tuna, sardines or lean corned beef, which are notoriously processed or less processed.

Unfamiliar Food

This is definitely the worst. Nutrition during training should also be the same during race day. If you attempt to alter your intake prior to race day with relatively new types of food, you increase the likelihood of bonking (hitting the wall) or getting tummy problems on the road.