Competing – What to eat and when! The basics you need to know!

Eat well the night before!

You need to ensure you eat some good carbohydrates the night prior to build up those glycogen levels ready for the next day. Foods such as pasta and rice do well here. You do still need to be eating protein and some fat with this meal to keep it balanced.

Some options:

  • Seafood pasta dish
  • Chicken, rice and vegetables
  • Spaghetti bolognaise
  • Chicken stir-fry with rice

Eat the morning before you compete!

I know you’re probably going to be so nervous and feeling a little stressed out, this is normal!!

You need to eat to get those sugar levels up and to help give you that little bit extra energy and nutrition to keep you going, as it will be a big day. Adrenaline will also kick in but you still need some food as well. You will be thankful at the end and the next day if you eat throughout.

You want something that isn’t going to be too heavy or too hard for your tummy to digest it. You want moderate carbohydrates and low fat.  If you have too much food here or a lot of complex carbohydrates you could experience some gastrointestinal discomfort and you may not feel your best or have enough energy to perform at your best.

Ideally you want to be eating this meal 2-4 hours before competing to allow for digestion.

Some options:

  • Smoothies – based on almond milk/water, fruit (banana, berries or mango), protein powder, small amount of complex carbohydrates (1/4 cup wholegrain oats) and some fat (nut butter).
  • Overnight Oats or Porridge – based on almond milk/water, fruit (banana or berries), protein powder, some fat (few nuts or nut butter or chia seeds) and a little honey if you like.
  • Omelette with vegetables and a little avocado.
  • Chicken salad sandwich
  • Tuna rice and salad bowl
  • Jacket potato, beans and salad
  • Homemade granola and yoghurt
  • Stir-fry with rice

Try to avoid greasy and processed foods here.

Eating throughout the day!

Meals here will depend on just how much time you have between events. If you only have 30mins – 1 hour between events you want something small that can be easily digested while giving you some sugar/energy to keep you going strong.

This is when you eat the foods you wouldn’t ordinarily eat, such as white bread, sweet biscuits and lollies.

Some options:

  • White bread/wrap/cruskits with peanut butter and honey, with or without a little fruit.
  • Fruit – banana, berries, melons, pineapple or grapes – your sweeter fruits that don’t have as much fibre to digest
  • Protein balls – often made on dates which will give you some sugar
  • Small smoothie – made on almond milk, fruit and honey and maybe a little nut butter
  • Sweet biscuits – such as tiny teddies, monte carlo’s
  • Yoghurts – flavoured fruit yoghurts
  • Lollies – often used with people completing high intensity and endurance activities

You can get gels and other products as well.

If you get a longer break between events such as 2-3 hours I would consider having a more substantial meal and to have some form of collagen protein powder or your preferred drink to start assisting with the repair of muscles. You could look at eating the following:

  • Chicken salad sandwich – using white bread
  • Cruskits with tuna and avocado or hummus and avocado
  • Sushi

After you have finished competing!

It is very important to have a good meal after this! The first 2 hours after exercising is when the absorption rate is at 150%, therefore allowing you to really start repairing your muscles and replenishing your glycogen levels.

You want to eat something here that will contain protein, carbs and fats, but also some calcium. Water is very essential as well to help you repair. Try and think of this meal as dinner. You want some protein, whether it be meat or some form of vegetarian protein, some carbohydrates such as vegetables, particularly green ones and sweet potato and some fat such as cooking in olive oil.

Some options:

  • Wholemeal chicken wrap with cheese
  • Raw nuts, yoghurt and fruit
  • Wholemeal pasta, meat and vegies
  • Milkshake (milk, fresh fruit, yoghurt, oats and honey)
  • Jacket potato, beans and cheese

Don’t forget to drink water throughout the day!

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