The days leading up to a marathon may feel like a good time to indulge in all of your favorite foods, because let’s face it, you’re about to run 26.2 miles and why not eat that chocolate cake?

But food plays an important role in performance for runners, so what you decide to eat can affect how you feel during a race. So, as said time and time again, you are what you eat, and that goes for race day.

“It’s important for runners to understand what foods may overwhelm their digestive system. You don’t want to train for months, and then overeat the night before and find yourself struggling through each mile,” Hoag Registered Dietitian, Mona Cabrera, R.D., said. “You want foods to build your energy reserve, but also foods that won’t weigh you down.”

Mona, put together some tips on how to stock your kitchen to prepare for the big race.

Tips for Pre-Race Nutrition – What to Eat Before Running

Healthy food to eat before running

1. Carb loading

Build up those energy reserves before race day and load up on carbohydrates, starchy vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. But don’t make the mistake of indulging in a heavy meal the day before the race.

2. Eat familiar foods

The morning before the race is not the time to try out a new protein bar or smoothie, stick to foods you know won’t upset your stomach.

Foods to Avoid Before Race Day

Foods to avoid before running a marathon

While you may feel like celebrating the night before your run, steer clear of fatty foods that aren’t always kind to the digestive system.

1. Avoid Dairy and Caffeine

On race day, avoid dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt) if you have gastrointestinal issues. Coffee is a diuretic so tread lightly with how many cups you have in the morning.

2. Say No to Alcohol

Alcohol causes dehydration, so avoid it for 24 hours before the race.

What to Eat During the Race

During the race, energy bars, energy gels, and bananas are excellent sources for replenishing carbohydrates during a race. Keep yourself hydrated. This includes water and sports drinks. Avoid soda, juice, and anything with high amounts of sugar.

What to Eat After the Race

Within one hour after a race or marathon, grab a carbohydrate-rich snack and a sports drink. And within two to three hours after a race or marathon, have a balanced meal comprising lean protein, carbohydrates, and good fats.