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:
Updated:
Original:

Good nutrition can provide a performance edge

By Carol M. Bareuther

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

01-LEAD-lagoon46-ncz4503-a3

10 Places to Cruise With a Catamaran

Navel gazing doesn’t get much better than from the deck of a sailboat anchored somewhere exotic. You can think great thoughts staring up at the stars from a South Seas anchorage. It’s also better doing so on a catamaran. Full confession: I’m a cat convert, a cat evangelist if ...read more

Radome

Ask SAIL: Some Random TLC

Q: I recently removed my radar’s white radome, which covers the internal rotating antenna. I gave the radome a light sandblasting to clear it of years of grime and discoloring. Should I paint it, too? — B. Anderson, Aberdeen, MD GORDON WEST REPLIES Stop! First, make sure the ...read more

L42-Sea-Trails-3728

Boat Review: Leopard 42

Sticking with its proven design formula, but also cherry-picking popular features from its recent models, Leopard Catamarans has launched a “best of” package with this new boat that sold nearly 30 units before hull #1 even touched water. Like a greatest hits album, the Leopard ...read more

01-LEAD-Cut8

Know how: Reinforcing Engine Stringers

If I were to ask, “What are the top five parts of the engine you want to be able to easily access?” How would you respond? Would it be the dipstick? The overflow coolant? I’d wager the raw water pump and its impeller would also make the list. Am I right? The reason we want to be ...read more

Sail-VOE-4-a

Experience: Under the Eyes of the Bar Bunch

Sitting quietly at the bar of a local yacht club, I gaze out over a rambunctious Lake Michigan on a sunny but blustery spring afternoon. I am enjoying watching a small sloop approaching the marina and recognize it as belonging to one of our newest members. “Pretty little thing. ...read more

01-LEAD-Bocas_Marina2

Cruising: Hurricane Heaven

As I write this, another hurricane season has passed. In hundreds of harbors and marinas, sailors are breathing a sigh of relief. I know the feeling since I rode out eight spinners aboard my sturdy 30-footer. I can recall the precise moment when I said, “No more!” It was in ...read more

J45-Podcast-vert-600x-02

Point of SAIL: J/Boats Inc. President Jeff Johnstone

In this episode of Point of SAIL, sponsored by West System Epoxy, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with Jeff Johnstone, president of J/Boats Inc., the company that has brought the world such iconic designs as the J/24, the J/105 and the J/22, to name a few. In their ...read more

100719BTSC-9304

Boat Review: Catalina 545

Catalina has long been the largest All-American family cruiser company, building what sailors might call “standard” boats. Moving up from the popular 30ft to 45ft sizes puts the company into “yacht” territory, and the new Catalina 545, winner of the SAIL magazine 2020 Best Boats ...read more