Curious what you need to eat to fuel your body for a Spartan race? Then you’ve come to the right place! Whether your a veteran or just starting out, this Spartan Diet Training Tips will help guide you in feeling your best as you cross that finish line!
Have you ever competed in a Spartan Race before?
I’m willing to be if you’ve landed on this post, you’ve done one before or are about to. Kudos to you either way!
Point being, whether your new to the Spartan atmosphere or a veteran, there’s something for everyone in this post.
Mr.CEO and I have combined now completed 5 Spartan races, with number 6 just a few short months away.
While I’m not competing in this one myself, I’m really excited to be Mr.CEO’s personal nutrition coach for his training program.
We recognized one of the biggest mistakes made during the Spartan Hawaii we did back in 2016 was not having the right nutrition DURING the race. Which, inevitably, caused him to get very low blood sodium and he had to drop out.
Point being, we are NOT going to do that again!
That’s why I’ve put together this list of Spartan Diet Tips to help guide you as you venture into your training!
What should you eat pre-workout on a Spartan Diet?
Depending on the type of training you are going to be doing will really dictate what you should consume.
According to the latest position statement from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and American College of Sports Medicine:
Foods and fluids consumed in the 1 to 4 hours prior to an event should contribute to body carbohydrate stores (particularly, in the case of early morning events to restore liver glycogen after the overnight fast), ensure appropriate hydration status and maintain gastrointestinal comfort throughout the event.
The type, timing and amount of foods and fluids included in this pre-event meal and/or snack should be well trialed and individualized according to the preferences, tolerance, and experiences of each athlete.
With this in mind, some great pre-workout snacks that we use regularly in the Shaw Kitchen include:
What about supplements pre-workout? Any recommendations?
Since Spartan Training is pretty intense, especially if you are gearing up to compete in some of the longer routes than are somewhere between 6 and 14 miles, you may want to consider adding supplementation to your pre-workout regimen.
Mr.CEO’s Pre-Workout Spartan Diet
Cardio (Long-Run Days):
Oatmeal with nut butter and banana an hour before the workout
1 tablespoon (9.6 grams) beet root powder mixed with 8 ounces water immediately before the workout
Research suggests that adding beet root powder to a pre-workout regimen before an endurance day may enhance performance and delay onset of fatigue.
Beets naturally contain a compound called nitrates that are converted into nitric oxide in the body. This helps dilate the blood vessels and enhance oxygen delivery to the muscles.
Raw chocolate peanut butter protein bar or trail mix an hour before workout
1 scoop (17.3 grams) branched chain amino acids with 10 ounces water before/during workout
Studies have reported some gains in strength and muscle with the addition of branched chain amino acids during and after strength workouts.
Though you can naturally consume branched chain amino acids in foods such as whey, beans, lentils and a host of others, it’s better tolerated and more convenient for Mr.CEO to just rely on this supplement.
What should your Spartan Diet look like during a workout?
This will depend on the type of workout you are engaging in and how your body tolerates food during an event.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, here are the guidelines for replenishing fluid and carbohydrates during events lasting longer than an hour (which most Spartans surely will!):
During exercise, athletes should start drinking early and at regular intervals in an attempt to consume cooler fluids at a rate sufficient to replace all the water lost through sweating.
Addition of proper amounts of carbohydrates and/or electrolytes to a fluid replacement solution is recommended since it does not significantly impair water delivery to the body and may enhance performance.
Also, please note that during exercise lasting less than 1 h, there is little evidence of physiological or physical performance differences between consuming a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink and plain water.
Carbohydrates should be ingested at a rate of 30–60 g ⋅ h–1 to maintain oxidation of carbohydrates and delay fatigue. Try drinking 600–1200 ml ⋅ h–1 of solutions containing 4%–8% carbohydrates (g ⋅ 100 ml–1) in the form of sugars (glucose or sucrose) or starch (e.g., maltodextrin).
Inclusion of sodium (0.5–0.7 g ⋅ l–1 of water) in the rehydration solution ingested during exercise lasting longer than 1 h is recommended since it may be advantageous in enhancing palatability, promoting fluid retention, and possibly preventing hyponatremia in certain individuals who drink excessive quantities of fluid.
Now, with that said, everyone needs to evaluate the best form to not only restore their electrolytes during a workout, but also
For Mr.CEO, he’s not so keen on the gels and gummy’s available on the market. So we’ve had to get creative with his refueling plan during his long workouts.
Mr. CEO’s During Workout Spartan Diet
A sodium/electrolyte tablet (or two depending on the number of miles he is running) to his water pack alongside 2 to 3 tablespoons of cane sugar
What should you eat after the workout?
Traditionally speaking, after your event or endurance workout that lasts over an hour you want to consume a 3 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates and protein to begin restoring glycogen stores while repairing muscle.
The position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine all agree that optimal nutrition is key pre, during and post workouts.
Their position for post-workout nutrition recommendations include:
Provide adequate fluids, electrolytes, energy, and carbohydrates to replace muscle glycogen and ensure rapid recovery. A carbohydrate intake of approximately 1.0-1.5 g·kg−1 body weight (0.5-0.7 g·lb−1) during the first 30 min and again every 2 h for 4-6 h will be adequate to replace glycogen stores.
Protein consumed after exercise will provide amino acids for building and repair of muscle tissue.
Thus, a good rule of thumb is to go for chocolate milk!
The carbohydrate and protein blend there is a great source of immediate post-workout nutrition to help replenish stores until you can get a balanced meal in.
Mr.CEO’s Post-Workout Spartan Diet
After his endurance days, his diet includes:
1 protein shake immediately post workout + 1 blueberry almond cookie (or whatever else I’ve made that day!)
A few more tips:
Never try something new the day of your race when it comes to your nutrition!
You want to be prepared for how your body will respond, so the best is to become familiar and adjusted to your workout nutrition at least a month before the race.
Be prepared. Pack extra food and water.
Yes, you never know what the day will bring. Better safe than sorry I always say! A few bars, bottled protein drinks and extra water are key.
Fuel early, and often!
I can’t take credit for this one. My good friend and sports dietitian Jenna Braddock helped me realize this. You need fuel to stimulate your gut to start digestion before you get hungry. So, within the first 15 minutes or so of a long event, be sure to get on the hydration and fueling!
Work with a sports dietitian.
Full disclosure, I’m not a sports dietitian, however have some training in the field of athletic nutrition and have worked closely with colleagues to ensure I’m designing the right plan for Mr.CEO.
If you’re training for an endurance event, I’d definitely recommend checking out my favorite Certified Sports Dietitians Jenna Braddock. She’s got an online Grocery Store Course to help you stock your pantry for Spartan success!
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