10/15/15

Ironman post-race indulging

It's just as important to have a healthy relationship with food going into your endurance races as it is to have a healthy relationship with food after your races. 


I've never been one to restrict the occasional indulgence in training and I certainly don't have rules for post-race indulgences.

Yum...ice cream, french fries, pizza and doughnut holes.




The most obvious reason for indulging is to compensate for the glycogen depletion, dehydration, brain fatigue and the massive amount of calories that were expended . Despite the gels, sport drinks, cola and solid food that you consumed during your race, your body is so famished post race that your choice of post-race food is likely a mix between "reward" food and whatever appeals to your taste buds and tummy.
And from my experience, every athlete craves something different post race. 


As a general guideline (as a coach, board certified sport dietitian and 10x Ironman finisher):




Pancake breakfast w/ eggs and fruit from Splasher's Grill 

In the 24 hours post race: 
Whatever you crave, eat it! Just be mindful that some foods may appeal to you but when eating them, your tummy may not tolerate them. Eat slow and don't feel pressure to finish your plate. It's likely that small meals are eater to digest than one large meal. Focus on hydration (with water/electrolytes) and eating every few hours. Depending on how your body performed at the race, this will likely dictate how you eat, what you eat and when you eat. But no guilty feelings about what you put into your body!


Good Karma burger and fries from Annie's Island Fresh Burgers

2 days post race:

Enjoy one or two meals as reward food/indulgences. For many athletes, it is likely that in the 24 hours post race, your appetite was a little off and you really didn't take full advantage of your many post race indulgence options. Treat yourself to a burger, wings, chips, fries, pizza, a big cinnamon roll - whatever sounds good at this point in your recovery. As for the other parts of the day, start "cleaning up" the diet by incorporating some healthy food options into your diet like oatmeal, soup, a salad, fresh fruit. Continue to focus on hydration/fluids.



Quinoa salad from Da Poke Shack

3 days post race:
At this point, your body should be feeling a little more normal and a lot less depleted. Consider that sleep deprivation can affect your appetite. It's time to start cleaning up the diet a bit more so reward food/indulgences should be kept to a minimum as this is the time when the body is starting to kick-start the recovery process. The foods you eat throughout the day should be nutrient dense and should make you feel "clean" inside when you eat them. It's time to start incorporating more fiber/plants into the diet to help with your immune system suppression post race so that you do not get sick during your recovery.

At this point, you want to start thinking about your post race diet and how it will help you maximize performance and health as you gear up for your next race.

If it's the start of the off-season for you, it's time to think about your off-season diet and body composition goals. .

If you struggle with your diet going into your races or recovery, contact a sport RD to help maximize your recovery and race week fueling.