What Athletes Eat: Cyclist Megan Guarnier’s Prerace Oatmeal
American cyclist Megan Guarnier made history last fall when she won bronze at the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, the first medal for a U.S. woman since 1994. And it all but guaranteed her a spot on the 2016 Olympic cycling team this summer.
How does she fuel up for courses that can run multiple days, and hundreds of miles? Since most women’s road races start from mid-morning to early afternoon, Guarnier has to time her nutrition just right so that she is not starving at the starting line. Here’s her go-to prerace (and pre-training) breakfast.
Day and time: Saturday morning, pre-training ride
Place: My home in France
What I’m eating: My basic oatmeal
Whose recipe: I have been using this recipe for the better part of my career. It started with just oats and cinnamon and has since expanded dramatically over the years.
Why I’m eating it: I usually have one large breakfast three hours before the event. The timing of consumption is important because you want to have the food fully digested when you hit the start line, but you also don’t want to be standing at the start hungry. Oatmeal is a great source of carbohydrates that releases energy slowly into your system. Add in some yogurt and fruit and you have a well-balanced meal. I also use the following basic recipe before my training rides. It’s helpful to train your system for these types of meals at home before you try them in competition to make sure this fueling system works for you.
I’ve found that this recipe is easy to digest, especially when my nerves are high and my stomach might be sensitive. I also find that diversifying the fresh and dried fruits as well as sweeteners keeps this meal interesting for many days on end, which is very important during a multi-day race. One trick that I have adopted over the years is to add the first four ingredients into a zip-lock bag and always have them packed away in my suitcase. This way, you’ll always be prepared to fuel yourself properly in case you can’t find the ingredients while traveling.
1/2 cup oats (old-fashioned or quick-oats if you don’t have access to a stovetop)
1 tsp chia seeds or ground flaxseeds pinch of cinnamon handful of dried fruit (i.e. goji berries, raisins, cranberries, or one of my new favorites, mulberries)
1 apple or 1 banana, diced
1 cup water or your choice of milk
Toppings: berries, apricots, peach, kiwi, pineapple, or nectarine; plain yogurt or Greek yogurt or fromage blanc; optional sweetener: fruit-flavored yogurt, honey, or maple syrup
Add old-fashioned oats, cinnamon, chia/flaxseeds, dried fruit, apple/banana, and water/milk together in a pot. Bring to boil and cook until no longer watery.
Once your oats have cooked thoroughly, you can add your toppings and plain yogurt. Depending on the sweetness of the fruit you’ve added, you might want to swirl in a sweetener. Stir ingredients to combine and enjoy!
(Note: For quick oats, mix all ingredients into a large bowl, then add boiling water, stir, and let it sit for approximately 3 minutes.)