The Racing Sailor's Menu

Good nutrition can provide a performance edgeBy Carol M. BareutherThe optimal diet for a racing sailor depends on the kind of sailing being done and whether it requires more brainpower or brawn. Still, there are certain basic nutrition principles that apply to all competitors. Before the Regatta Carbohydrates are your body’s primary fuel and should
Author:
Publish date:

Good nutrition can provide a performance edge

By Carol M. Bareuther

eatingright

The optimal diet for a racing sailor depends on the kind of sailing being done and whether it requires more brainpower or brawn. Still, there are certain basic nutrition principles that apply to all competitors.

Before the Regatta Carbohydrates are your body’s primary fuel and should make up 50 percent of your caloric intake. If you regularly eat a variety of healthy foods containing carbohydrates (breads, cereals, pastas, rice, fruits, and vegetables), you’ll have ample stored glycogen to fuel a couple of hours of intense physical activity—even more if the activity is less strenuous.

Race Day At breakfast, concentrate on getting hydrated and consume plenty of complex carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein, and small amounts of fat. An ideal breakfast could be oatmeal, whole-grain toast with jam, milk, and a piece of fruit; or yogurt, granola, and an apple; or two boiled eggs, a bran muffin, and orange juice. If you can’t stomach much food in the morning, at least go for a yogurt, fruit, or a granola bar. If possible, eat 2 to 4 hours before sailing (less if you opt for lighter fare).

Eating pancakes swimming in maple syrup a few hours before racing can lead to a precipitous drop in your blood-sugar level and a corresponding plunge in concentration just as you’re navigating the start line. On the other hand, drinking fruit juice or eating some fruit may improve your concentration, according to recent studies.

On the Water Stay hydrated. Losing a mere 2 percent of your body weight via dehydration—that’s only 3 pounds on a 150-pound sailor—can impair physical performance and mental concentration by up to 20 percent. Water is best, but if you’re sailing longer than 90 minutes you should opt for a sports drink that provides electrolyte minerals (sodium and potassium) as well as simple carbohydrates. If you’re sailing for an entire day, pack easy-to-eat foods like sandwiches, cheese or peanut butter and crackers, fresh fruits, granola bars, dried fruits, and nuts.

Recovery Fuel Resist the urge to head straight to the bar, as alcohol and caffeine contribute to dehydration. Your goal after competing is to replace lost fluids and glycogen stores. To quickly replenish glycogen, which is important in a multi-day event where you want to
perform at peak levels on consecutive days, eat a carb-rich snack (fruit, raisins,
pretzels, and juice) within 30 minutes after finishing a race. Follow this up with a balanced meal within two hours. If you’re headed for the bar, drink plenty of water first.

Carol M. Bareuther is a registered dietician and freelance writer who lives and sails in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Related

Before-and-after-1_silo

Know How: Cleaning Stainless

Without a doubt, the best way to “clean” stainless steel parts is to have them electropolished. Electropolishing is an electrochemical process that cleans the stainless and removes any surface iron particles, leaving a shiny and far more rust-resistant surface. The downsides of ...read more

catstory

Cruising: Sailing With a Young Family

The dark is alive when you are surrounded by water. Black is tinted blue and silver, and sky meets surf with electricity and the lapping sounds of silence. Inside our 36ft catamaran, moored off Cooper Island in the BVI, the raw nature outside, just now settling down from a late ...read more

IslandPacket349

Boat Review: Island Packet 349

After years of quiescence in the wake of the Great Recession, iconic Island Packet is back with its new 349, a re-boot of the old Estero that not only looks great, but takes the Island Packet style of sailing performance to a new level. Design & Construction First among the many ...read more

190219NEEL51

Video Tour: Neel 51 Trimaran

At this past fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, SAIL magazine had a chance to corner Neel Trimarans founder Eric Bruneel and have him give us a tour of the accommodations aboard the new Neel 51, winner of the “Multihull over 50ft” category in the 2019 Best Boats contest. For a complete ...read more

IMG_0173

Electronic “Flares” for Cruisers

The United States Coast Guard requires that all boats operating in coastal waters or on the high seas carry a selection of visual distress signals. Almost invariably, such signals include the pyrotechnic type, either handheld or fired from a flare pistol, but surely there are ...read more

M2-HOOK-TOP-AND-CHAIN-1

Gear: M2 Chain Hook from Mantus

Stay Hooked Chain hooks on anchor snubber lines tend to fall off when you least want them to. Not so this latest example from Mantus. The M2 Chain Hook is secured to the chain by a simple elastic strap, so it won’t come off when the snubber loosens. Made from corrosion-resistant ...read more