Nutrition and hydration strategies for race day

by | Aug 22, 2022 | Exercise, Fitness & Rehab | 0 comments

Nutrition and hydration plan for race day

Your goal for the day of the race is to load your muscles with as much quickly available energy as possible. And to stay hydrated.

Everyone is different, so to determine the optimal strategy for yourself will take trial and error. The ideas presented here should only serve as a beginning point of reference. Please take in this set of recommendations and compare them with input from other experts before settling on your own race-day strategy.

If you have time to plan ahead for a future race, you can test out these recommendations during your training. Discover the food and water strategies that go easy on your stomach, help you avoid extra pit stops, and provide you with the extra kick you need to achieve a faster time.

Here’s your pre-race plan

The food you eat on the day of the race should be high in carbohydrates and low (not zero) in fats and proteins. Fats and proteins do provide energy, but they’re harder to digest and your body takes longer to extract the energy from them.


4-5 hours before race: 1.0 – 1.5 gm of carbs per pound of body weight

2 hours before race: 0.5 – 1.0 gm of carbs per pound of body weight

half hour before race: 0.5 gm of carb per pound of body weight


4-5 hours before race: 2-3 cups

2 hours before race: 2 cups

half hour before race: 2 cups

During the race


Research on nutrition during a race has shown a potential benefit from taking in about 0.4 grams of carbohydrate per hour per pound of body weight. For someone 150 pounds, that means 60-70 grams per hour.

Examples of foods containing 70 grams of carbohydrate include

  • 3/4 cup of raisins
  • 3 bananas

But many runners choose gels, power bars, or sports drinks instead. The product label will tell you how many carbs these contain.


Different authorities suggest different amounts of fluid intake. Ultimately, you’ll have to figure out what’s best for you. The amount you want to drink will also depend on temperature and humidity.

For a baseline starting point, plan to consume about 1.5 ml of water per pound of body weight every 20 minutes. For a 150 pound person, that translates into 225 milliliters, or 7-8 ounces every 20 minutes.

Turn your body into an efficient running machine

Dr. Lavine’s program for runners

Dr. Lavine has been an innovator in the use of movement and touch to promote health since 1981. He practices in New York City and Princeton, NJ.


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