Proper nutrition is key to a successful sporting event or match for top athletes. Here are 10 nutrition tips to keep you fueled during the workout and will also help lead to a quick recovery:
1. Carbohydrates are your best friend.
Your body needs carbohydrates in order to create glucose, which is in turn made into energy. Experts recommend eating a diet of 70% carbohydrates (bread, pasta, fruits, etc.) before a big workout event or sporting event. Make sure you eat carbs AFTER you exercise as well. You should eat a carbohydrate/protein combination (such as Greek yogurt) within 15 minutes of finishing your training.
2. Don’t over do your protein in-take
Protein is necessary to maintain your muscle mass, but it doesn’t provide a ton of fuel for energy. When you do eat protein, make sure it is from actual food (lean meats, fish, etc.) and not from protein supplements. Too much protein can put a strain on your kidneys.
3. Avoid fatty foods
Try to stick to unsaturated foods like avocados, nuts, and olives. On the day of your event, stay away from fatty foods completely as they slow digestion and can lead to an upset stomach.
4. Drink lots of water, but avoid caffeine
If you’re like me, you’re just going to pretend you didn’t read this step. What’s the excitement of game day without a cup of coffee to get you buzzing in the morning? During intense workouts, hydration is key, and unfortunately, coffee causes dehydration. Instead, this means lots and lots (and lots and lots and lots) of water, not only during the game, but 2-3 hours before the match as well. Nutritionists all agree: drink early and drink often. On average, endurance athletes should drink 8 to 12 ounces of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes during a sporting event (such as long-distance cycling).
5. Drink liquid foods (+Milk)
Don’t like the idea of eating before your big match? Yogurts, soups, and smoothies are your new best friend. They provide you with nutrients and energy, but don’t give you the “full and heavy’ feeling like solid foods.
6. Get a good night of sleep
Not only will a solid night of sleep helps you perform well, it is also essential for recovery. Make sure you get a full 7-9 hours of sleep the night before your race to optimize your performance.
7. Don’t forget electrolytes!
Prone to sweating a lot? To replenish your body, make sure you are stocked up on sports drinks with lots of electrolytes. Besides staying hydrated with just water, experienced athletes know that they need sodium and electrolytes to keep their bodies fueled. Don’t have electrolytes on hand? Sodium rich foods- such as pretzels and soup- are another alternative to replenish your body.
8. Plan ahead by prepping meals
If you’re an athlete, you must understand the power of meal prep. Meal prep is essential for not only pre-workout, but also for post-workout. The last thing you want to worry about after a workout event is cooking a healthy meal. After a long work out, it can be tempting to ‘reward’ yourself with a not-so-healthy meal. By prepping ahead, you can make some of your favorite healthy snacks beforehand and have those to look forward to.
9. Stay consistent with eating and refueling
Don’t try and switch up your diet the day of your race or sporting event. Your diet and workouts should be consistent the week(s) leading up to your event. Another important thing to keep in mind is that certain sports require certain diets. Make sure you are eating the proper diet for your sport in the weeks before.
10. Eat your breakfast!
While I’m usually a big fan of intermittent fasting, I would not recommend it on the day of your race or sporting event. A pre-game breakfast is essential, but make sure you eat it at least 3 hours before the event so that your body has time to digest the food. Make sure you eat a well-balanced breakfast with at least 3 food groups. An example of an optimal breakfast would include a protein, a grain, and a fruit. If you get hungry closer to your race, feel free to have a light snack, such as a granola bar.
Eating right and providing your body with the proper nutrients can be the secret weapon to performing your best.