Nutrition is an essential factor that can help you to reach your peak performance. This guide can assist to provide some general ideas for what you should be eating at different stages leading up to, during and after competition.
You’ve trained so hard and now it’s competition time!
Stage 1: Days Leading Up to Competition
The aim of stage 1 is to ensure glycogen stores are full and you’re maintaining a normal electrolyte balance.
Aim to eat very similar to your regular diet with the option of choosing some higher carbohydrate dinners like pasta, rice and potatoes.
Avoid fast food and excessive salt intake as this can increase your risk of cramping during competition and will affect your energy levels.
Stage 2: The Morning of the Competition
The aim of stage 2 is to ensure you’re fully hydrated and have some plenty of energy for competition.
Eat a breakfast high in carbohydrates. This should contain some sugars but still a majority of complex carbohydrates. Oats/muesli with some fruit is an excellent choice.
You can also sip on a sports drink. Otherwise, simply consuming enough water will be adequate.
Stage 3: During Competition
The primary aim to stage 3 is to maintain hydration during competition.
During longer competition (carnivals or back to back games) you will also need to top up energy levels throughout the day.
You should sip on a sports drink regularly throughout the day to ensure you do not become overly thirsty. Refuel with a mix of sugars and complex carbohydrates in between games or half time. A banana is the perfect mix of some sugars + complex carbohydrates to give you a quick influx of energy without the resulting crash that lollies or sweets would cause.
Also aim to consume some protein during the day to avoid excessive muscle breakdown.
Stage 4: Post Competition
The aim of stage 4 is to maximise recovery from competition. This is arguably the most important stage particularly when you are playing a carnival over a few days or have multiple games close together. You should consume 30g of whey protein along with 30g of sugar/glucose within 20 mins of finishing competition.
Avoid consuming any fats for the next three hours as this will interfere with the insulin release and protein absorption and hinder recovery.