Top Foods for Slow Release Energy on Race Day
When practicing or competing in any sport, nutrition is key. Karting is no exception. Whilst you should take care to eat a healthy, balanced diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and lean protein all year round, it is important to pay particular attention to what you eat on race day. After all, your food is your fuel. When it comes to impressing the crowds and getting ahead of your competitors on the track, physical stamina and mental focus are everything. When competing, avoid sugary, fatty foods that are likely to send your insulin levels soaring, only to plunge back down again moments later. Instead, opt for slow release foods such as sweet potatoes, porridge oats, beans and pulses.
Experiment With Sweet PotatoSweet potatoes are a great source of slow release energy; think of them as a wholegrain alternative to the regular white potato. Not only are sweet potatoes tasty, they’re versatile too. Try baking a large sweet potato in the oven and topping it with hummus, feta and chopped olives for a high protein hit, served alongside a crunchy, hydrating salad. If you’re short on time, use the microwave instead. If you’re looking for something simpler, why not try sweet potato wedges? Slice up a few sweet potatoes into finger-thick wedges, drizzle a little olive oil over them, sprinkle them with salt, pepper and a spice like paprika or chilli then put them in the oven on a medium heat for around 40 minutes. Alternatively, cook up some sweet potato mash for a tasty side dish. Sweet potatoes also count as one of your five-a-day, so they will contribute to your general health and provide you with plenty of vitamins, as well as giving you with a great source of slow release energy on race day.
Eat More PorridgeContrary to popular belief, porridge can be truly tasty. It’s also the perfect race day breakfast or snack. Porridge is an unrivalled source of slow release energy and has a higher protein content than other breakfast cereals. As if that wasn’t enough, porridge oats also help the body to produce serotonin – a great feel-good chemical that you also get from chocolate, laughing and exercise. In fact, studies have shown that porridge can help to beat anxiety, so eat porridge for breakfast if you want to feel upbeat, relaxed and motivated when you hit the track. Cook your porridge with water on the stove or in the microwave, then pour a gulg of semi-skimmed milk on top. Get creative with toppings. Go for nuts and seeds for even more slow release energy. Rather than opting for honey, sugar or syrups that are likely to cause your blood sugar to spike, sweeten your porridge by adding fresh fruits like strawberries, blueberries and bananas. Most fruits are slowly absorbed too, so they shouldn’t disrupt your blood sugar and insulin levels. A spoonful of peanut butter also makes a great topping.
Introduce Beans and PulsesBeans and pulses such as lentils, chickpeas and butter beans have a low glycemic index (GI) – a measurement that shows how different foods effect your blood sugar and insulin levels. This makes them an ideal option when it comes to race day nutrition. As an added bonus, they’re also bursting with fibre and protein and are low in fat too. There’s no need to feel apprehensive about introducing beans and pulses to your race day diet. You don’t need to start chomping on falafel and other alternative foods if you don’t want to. Try adding a can of chickpeas or kidney beans to a bolognaise sauce and serve it up with wholegrain pasta. Alternatively, throw some kidney beans or lentils in a salad or spread some hummus on a couple of rye crackers for a quick and easy snack. Add beans and pulses to soups, stews and casseroles to make them more nutritious.
Whilst sweet potatoes, porridge oats and beans and pulses could help to keep your energy levels and your nerves steady on race day, there’s no need to limit yourself to these three superfoods, as tasty and nutritious as they are. Peanut butter, brown rice and pasta, lean red meat, marmite, avocado and wholemeal bread are all great sources of slow release energy too. If you concentrate on variety, you are less likely to be tempted to indulge in sugary and fatty foods. Experiment with healthy, low GI foods and spend some time finding out what you like best.Make planning and cooking yourself a delicious, fortifying meal part of your race day routine.