Fueling for Competition
The Block Brawl is almost here! Are you competing? Spectating? Judging? If you haven’t already, it’s a good time to start giving your competition-day nutrition some thought. It is going to be hot, and you’ll need to come prepared with plenty of food and water!
- Athletes, you have practiced and psyched yourself up for the big event, and proper nutrition will keep you performing at your best throughout the day. Seriously, it can make or break your recovery between workouts.
- Judges, it’s going to be a long day, and you need to be hydrated and well-fueled so you can concentrate on those reps!
- Spectators, the athletes are going to need a lot of support, cheering, and energy from you, and in order to do that, you need to be well fed.
The most important reasons to fuel properly before an event are to prevent low energy, fatigue, muscle weakness, avoid cramping (muscle or stomach), top off muscle glycogen stores and to avoid feelings of hunger during workouts. First, don’t do anything new on competition day! This can’t be emphasized enough. No new socks, bras, shorts, supplements and most importantly, NO NEW FOODS! Competition day can do strange things to our digestive system. Studies show that as many as 30-50% of athletes have an upset stomach if they eat before an event. This is often related to emotional or mental stress, caffeine intake, hydration status and types of food eaten the day of or day before the event. Here are some specific suggestions from Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. If you’re interested in more information about sports nutrition, it’s a great, easy to read resource for athletes!
Two days before event– Thursday
Nutrition: Eat well throughout the day. Don’t allow yourself to get too hungry or too full. Don’t try any new foods. Activity: Cut back on exercise to rest the body. No crazy metcons and no heavy loading! Some rowing, light running, jump roping, air squats, etc. are fine. Mobility, mobility, mobility!
Day before event– Friday
Nutrition: Eat well throughout the day. Don’t allow yourself to get too hungry or too full. Don’t try any new foods. Drink water all day long. Today is a good day to drink extra fluids! Eat a higher carbohydrate dinner. For some, that is going to be roughly 60g of carbohydrates, and for others that may be closer to 120g of carbohydrates. This will depend on the size of the athlete and typical intake. Activity: Cut back on exercise to rest the body. No crazy metcons and no heavy loading! Some rowing, light running, jump roping, air squats, etc. are fine. Mobility, mobility, mobility!
Day of event- Saturday
Nutrition: 1. Eat a 200-400 calorie meal (yogurt, banana, eggs, or oatmeal). Drink water! Snack every 1 ½ – 2 hours. Have protein and carbohydrates that are well tolerated. Drink fluids before you feel thirsty! Our thirst mechanism is delayed, so by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. 2. Eat within 5-10 minutes post-event even if it’s just 10g of protein and 10g of carbohydrates.
- ½ scoop of protein
- ½ banana + low-fat cheese
- Chocolate milk
- ½ sandwich
- Fuel for Fire pouch (sold at Block)
If you have an hour or more between events, it may be a good time to get in some additional fluids and a few extra calories 200-300. Recommended to have 30-60g of carbohydrates per hour through food or drink (or combo of both). It may be helpful to sip on an electrolyte replacement, such as a sports drink along with water to stay hydrated. Activity: Spend time warming up very well prior to each event. Don’t sit too long. Cool down on the rower or work on mobility for 5-10 minutes after each event to flush muscles.
Day of event: Saturday
Nutrition: Eat within 15-30 minutes after your last workout. Aim for 15-30g protein, 45-75g of carbohydrates.
Post-Competition Recovery Nutrition:
Recovery does NOT begin until you eat post-workout, ideally within 15-20 minutes of your last workout. Eating a combination of protein and carbohydrates (approx.15-30g protein and 45-75g carbohydrates) can help start to repair damaged tissues, speed muscle repair, reduce inflammation, reduce core temperature and aid in rehydration (you rehydrate better if you eat protein and carbohydrates with fluids). Here are some pre-post workout meal ideas for competition day. Remember, nothing new on competition day! The best pre/post workout meal is one that is well tolerated!
- Whole wheat toast with nut butter or jam + eggs
- Low-fat Greek yogurt + low-sugar granola + fruit
- Oatmeal + milk + nuts + fruit
- Low-fat cottage cheese + fruit + whole wheat English muffin
- Turkey/ chicken/ salmon/ veggie burger on whole wheat bun + salad or low-fat yogurt
- Turkey sandwich + low fat cheese + fruit
- Tuna Sandwich + fruit + low-fat yogurt
- Chicken or fish with veggies and brown rice or quinoa
- Clark, N. (1997). Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook (2nd edition). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics (editor and publisher).
- Duyff, R.L. (1998). The American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food & Nutrition Guide. Minneapolis, MN: Chronimed Publishing.
- Williams, M.H. (1999). Nutrition for Health, Fitness, & Sport (5th edition). USA: McGraw – Hill.
- Mangano, M. Athletes’’ Performance Nutrition Team athletesperformance.com & www.coreperformance.com