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Best Foods to Eat on Race Day

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sandwhiches

Are you training for an upcoming race or marathon? Whether you’re a race veteran or a newbie, it’s extremely important to feed your body properly before and after a race. Eating the right foods at the right times will enable your body to perform at its best and allow it to recover properly, decreasing the possibility of injury.

Nutrient Basics

Carbohydrates are the main fuel for running. The body converts them into glycogen, a source of energy stored in the liver and muscles. A good store of glycogen is needed to sustain energy levels and to prevent the body from

depleting proteins. Proteins are essential for rebuilding muscle, with lean meats like poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy being great options.

Pre-race Tips

Eating immediately before running can lead to cramping, but eating too many hours beforehand can result in low energy levels during the race. Having a light snack or meal approximately 1 ½ to 2 hours before a race works well for many runners but you’ll need to experiment to find out what works best for you.

Choose a meal that’s high in carbohydrates and contains some protein and healthy fats. A few good pre-race foods include:

  • A bagel with nut butter
  • A banana and an energy bar
  • A bowl of cold cereal with milk
  • Whole wheat pasta with cheese and veggies
  • A vegetable omelet with toast
  • A cheese stick and carrots
  • A smoothie made with fruit and yogurt

Post-race Tips

The goal after a race is to replenish energy as quickly as possible and to minimize muscle stiffness and soreness. Eating within thirty minutes after completing a race is ideal, as muscles are most receptive to rebuilding glycogen stores during this time.

Carbohydrates are essential for recovery but protein is also important. Some good post-race food options are:

  • Chocolate milk
  • Oatmeal topped with fresh fruit, honey, or almonds
  • Hummus with carrot sticks or pita bread
  • Chicken breasts with brown rice and vegetables
  • A banana with peanut butter
  • A sandwich with lean meats, eggs, or low-fat cheese
  • Greek yogurt with granola and mixed berries

Don’t Forget to Hydrate

Staying properly hydrated is also critical. Be sure to drink water before your race to start off well hydrated. And drink water during and after the race to replace fluids lost through sweat.

By making sure your body receives the proper nutrition before and after, you’ll feel strong throughout your race and finish feeling ready for the next one!

Food Safety: How to Keep Food Safe in the Summer

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With summer quickly approaching, there are many outdoor gatherings to look forward to, from backyard BBQs and pool parties, to picnics and tailgates. But in warm weather, it’s more challenging to keep your food safe from harmful pathogens that can cause foodborne illnesses.

Safe temperature for grilling

Follow these packing, food prep, cooking, and storage tips to prevent food-borne illnesses from ruining your summer fun.

General Packing:

  • Bring a cooler with ice to pack meat, poultry, and seafood in for times where you can’t go straight home after the supermarket.
  • Always keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood wrapped securely to keep juices from contaminating other foods. Pack them in their own bags at the store and, when taking somewhere, keep them in a separate cooler, apart from other foods.
  • Pack two sets of plates and utensils so you’ll have one set to use for raw foods and another to use with cooked foods.
  • Bring soap, a gallon of water, and some paper towels if you’ll be at a park or someplace you won’t have access to running water so you can wash your hands when needed.

Cooler Specifics:

  • A full cooler will maintain cold temperatures longer than a partially filled one, so bring plenty of extra ice to ensure everything stays cold.
  • Keep your cooler out of the direct sun and limit the amount of times it’s opened. Since beverages are frequently sought after, store drinks in a separate cooler from foods.

Food Prep:

  • Unwashed hands are a main cause of foodborne illness. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm soap and water before and after handling food.
  • Always marinate food in the refrigerator, rather than on a kitchen counter or outside. And don’t reuse marinade that has touched raw meat.
  • Don’t reuse platters or utensils that have touched raw meat, poultry or seafood.

Cooking:

  • Cook food thoroughly and use a food thermometer to ensure the proper internal temperature has been reached.
  • Cooked foods from the grill shouldn’t be exposed to the heat and sun for more than an hour. Grill in batches, only making enough for what you think will be eaten within an hour. Store extra meats in the cooler until they’re ready to go on the grill.
  • Keep cooked meats on the side of the grill rack to keep them hot.

Storage:

  • Wrap hot food well and place it in an insulated container until serving.
  • Toss out any food, both cooked and uncooked, that’s been left out for over an hour. Leftovers that are still good should be placed directly in the refrigerator or freezer. If out, pack them in a cooler until you get home.

The extra time involved to follow these precautionary measures will be well worth the effort. Keep your food safe and you’ll have a wonderful summer full of enjoyable outdoor dining adventures!