Where to Eat In London The Night Before A Race: Carbs, Carbs, Carbs!
Choosing your last meal the night before your big race can be a hard decision, you know you need to ‘carb load’ but where is the best place to eat?
London is a bustling hub of amazing restaurants and I bet you are often left thinking “there are so many places to eat, but I have no idea where to go!!” (trust me, I know this feeling well). And, the choices are that much harder when you know you have to eat something very specific and can’t just hop over to your go-to burger spot.
You are probably feeling a mix of anxiety and excitement the night before race day, and then there is the added stress of finding a place to eat for you and your raceday buddies to get all your last minute race fuel. And international runners? We’ve been there, it is an absolute pain in the backside trying to find a suitable restaurant for that pre-race dinner in another city!
Whilst we were doing our research for where we should eat on Saturday night before Run to The Beat, we thought we might as well share it with runners worldwide on Food and Lycra! We are going to be hooking up with the girls from Lyon Running Club as they join us in London for Run to The Beat.
Before you venture into the streets of London to find somewhere to eat a carbilicious bowl of pasta, here are a few ‘What to Eat Tips’ to bare in mind:
- Eat What You Know – No one wants you to have an upset tummy or for you to poop your panties on raceday! Don’t overdo it on chillies like a certain someone, ahem Kimmayco. Be sure to eat a balanced meal too, something high in carbs and protein, and low in fat.
- Carb Load, in Moderation – Carb Loading has become somewhat of a buzzword for runners worldwide, with everyone looking to eat their bodyweight in pasta in the hopes of helping them stay fueled for raceday. You should really be ‘carb loading’ in the days leading up to your run, not just the night before, but obviously this is not always a realistic time-frame (we’re all human). You should be eating around 70% of your calories from carbs in the last few meals before the big race – it’s time to up your carb game!
- Complex Carbs – Carb loading doesn’t mean eating any ol’ carbs. Opt for complex carbs over simple carbs. Complex carbs are carbs that your body takes longer to break down, giving you a steady and long lasting flow of energy. Complex carbs means think BROWN - wholegrain bread, brown rice, and brown pasta, and also sweet potatoes and yam.
- Don’t Overeat The Night Before – Eat your normal portion of dinner! We’ve heard many pooping stories, don’t be one of those runners: "Too much 'loading' can lead to 'unloading' during the race."
- Eat Early – Leave enough time for your body to digest your dinner, so you don’t wake up feeling bloated and full.
Now let’s talk food!
Bocca Di Lupo The guys behind my favourite ice-cream store! We are yet to try it but we’ve heard great things about this restaurant. Tucked away in Soho, right opposite Gelupo is this little, but extremely busy Italian restaurant. They have a great range of regional Italian food, with an ever changing menu depending on season. There are about 4 or 5 pasta dishes, and one of the best things about this place is the option to order a large portion – great for sharing. Try and avoid the fried section of the menu, and their much acclaimed wine menu, I know it can be tempting!
We all know fish is great for you, so I’m not going to start listing all the health benefits, but I will say it’s a great source of lean protein and it’s lower in saturated fats, just like white meat from chicken and turkey – perfect for the dinner the night before. One of our favourite fish restaurants is Simply Fish in Shoreditch and Camden, not only do you get to ‘make your own’ dinner, but the prices are set at £12.75 no matter what fish you choose, an absolute bargain for a fish dinner. There are 8 types of fish to choose from, with a choice of how you want it cooked, your sauce and two sides! Opt for steamed or baked white fish like cod which has low-fat protein and minerals, or salmon which is high in omega-3 fatty acids (the good fats), and pick sweet potatoes and greens or rice as a side.
Located in a faraway land called Putney, it’s not the most convenient food spot to reach, but it’s a cute and charming café with great food – I’ve been there, and would definitely recommend it. Otabe Kafe is one of London’s very few restaurants that have a brown rice only menu, perfect for those complex carbloads, and only use organic and free-range produce. They are only open until 7pm, so it best to go there for lunch, an early dinner, or try out their brown rice porridge for breakfast. Their sushi rolls are delicious and affordable, and although I haven’t tried it, I bet their Donburi rice dishes are great too.
Benito’s Hat So I read somewhere that burrito’s are a great option too! A mix of your veggies, carbs, and proteins all wrapped in a carb-ie tortilla…I guess it makes sense. Benito’s Hat is a Mexican bar and kitchen with various locations around Central London, my favourite branch is located in Goodge Street. They make great tasting burritos that are filled to the max like they should be! Opt for the grilled chicken if you can resist the delicious pork, and be sure to head back there when there isn’t a race involved to try out their Bunuelos dessert…SO FUCKING GOOD.
Vapiano The fail safe, central located pasta spot. Yes, nothing new here and yes it’s a chain, but we can’t knock it can we? The make-whilst-you-wait concept at Vapiano means it’s great for a large group of friends so you don’t have to faff around with trying to divide a bill between 10 people. They also have the biggest pasta menu that we’ve seen, with 11 types of pasta’s to choose from (personally favourite is the campanelle) and the portions are perfect. They also do brown pasta so perfect place to stock up on your complex carbs!
Where are your favourite places to eat the night before a race? Tell us your recommendations in the comments below!