Tip 1: Practice Makes Progress
Practice may not make you perfect but it will definitely help to ensure that what you eat during training, on the day of the competition enhance and not hinder your performance. In order to avoid food-related stress and issues on the big day, it is important that you have practiced your food routine and are familiar with it. Tournament day is not the day to try something new! Good food choices will help support your intensive training whilst limiting the risks of illness and injury. You are an individual so you will need to try and test what foods and drinks work best for you and when these foods need to be eaten. Think along the lines of before exercise, during exercise and after exercise.
- Be open to trying new foods (though not just before important competitions!)
- Variety is the spice of life – mix and match foods at meals so that you are getting as many nutrients in as possible.
Tip 2: Fuel up with carbohydrates
No matter what your sport, carbohydrates are vital for optimal performance. Exercising muscles and the brain both rely on carbohydrate as the main source of fuel. A diet that is low in carbohydrate can lead to a lack of energy during exercise, early fatigue, loss of concentration and delayed recovery. The amount you need will depend on your training programme and dietary goals. In general, the more intense the training programme the more carbohydrates one needs to eat. Optimise your carbohydrate intake during the days leading up to and on the day of your match.
When competition comes around you will have plenty of your mind already. So the days before the event, keep exercise to a minimum – if anything at all – and eat meals and snacks high in complex carbohydrates to keep your glycogen stores topped up. Include foods such as such as basmati rice, noodles, wholegrain bread and crackers, breakfast cereals, fruit and vegetables in your diet.
Leading sports nutritionalist specialist