Keeping the body fuel at it’s peak for training and matches can be challenging enough, so how do you ensure that you are reaching full throttle during events that have multiple games or rounds?
It is typical for the athletes, players, and believe it or not, coaches to turn up to events like football, rugby or swimming tournaments with no fuelling strategy in place. If peak performance is the objective, this is utterly absurd and an inexcusable oversight.
- muscle fuel stores will decrease during each game or event. Water or rehydration drinks are not enough to replace this energy so muscle fuel stores will become depleted, affecting muscle power output, speed, balance, injury risk etc.
- carbohydrate is required for the brain cells to function optimally, essential for making quick and accurate decisions on the field
Be prepared, stock up on food supplies before the journey to the event. Don’t ‘wing it’ by hoping that there might be food available when you get there.
3-4 hours before:
Normal meal: consisting of plenty of carbohydrates (bread, potatoes, rice pasta etc.) protein (meat, fish, eggs, chicken etc.) and ideally fruit/veg. Fluid.
1-2 hours before: easily digestible food, high carbohydrate, low fat, continue to drink plenty.
- energy bars
- muesli bars
- banana or any fruit
- fruit smoothie
- low fibre breakfast cereal with milk e.g Rice Krispies or Cornflakes
- Sandwiches made with white bread
- low fat fruit yogurt
- 200ml diluted fruit juice/smoothie
- Energy gels
- Carbohydrate Drinks e.g. Lucozade Sport
- Handful of jelly sweets e.g. jelly beans/babies (Haribo are quite chewy so hard to eat enough!)
- Scone/fruit bread
- Ripe banana
Know what works for you, and don’t try something new on the day. For example, some people find that energy gels give them stomach cramps and feel better with a ripe banana.
If you suffer from diarrhoea before or during an event, there are a number of foods that you should avoid for 24 hours before. ‘Trigger foods’ typically include lactose (found in milk/yogurt), gluten (found in food containing wheat flour), and ‘prebiotics’ (look for inulin or oligosaccharides on food labels – often in sports energy bars and drinks). Confused? Then just ask a sports dietitian who can help you.