Finally got around to uploading part 2 of Kate’s write up! Aside from skating, Kate has been a competitive runner so she knows a thing or two about proper nutrition before and after competitions.
I’m gonna be starting a challenge to get everyone in shape for nationals so look out for that in the next few days!
By Kate Spencer
An athletes performance depends more on long term dietary practices than the food consumption just before or after an event. What an athlete eats before and after a training session and competition, however, can have both physiological and psychological effects on performance.
Precompetition Food Consumption
Although there are a few absolute guidelines for the specific foods that should constitute a precompetition meal, for many athletes precompetition eating is ritualistic. It is important to appreciate an athletes concerns and beliefs about precompetition eating while at the same time understanding the physiological aspects. There are numerous reccommendations on timing, amount, and types of food for precompetition meals that appear in sport nutrition publications; however, many recommendations are not supported by scientific data and may not be appropriate for all athletes. There are a few points to consider when planning your precompetition meal.
The primary purpose of the precompetition meal is to provide fluid and energy to the athlete during the performance. Foods and beverages consumed should not interfere with the physiological aspects of the athletes performance.
The most common recommendation is to eat 3 to 4 hours prior to the event to avoid becoming nauseated or uncomfortable during competition. This time frame is probably more appropriate for aerobic endurance athletes, such as runners, who often experience abdominal discomfort. Experience shows that the optimal timing of precompetition eating varies greatly from athlete to athlete, however, some athletes can eat a meal just minutes before an event; others can eat virtually nothing for up to 12 hours before competition.
The following are athletes who should allow at least 3 to 4 hours between a meal and practice or competition:
– Athletes who participate in contact sports with high risk of injury or likelihood of being hit in the stomach.
– Athletes who lose appetite or feel nauseated shortly before training or competition. Eating before gastric distress occurs allows the athlete to get the calories needed and can prevent vomiting related to nervousness.
– Athletes who get diarrhea shortly before the event. Anxiety increases gastric peristalsis (contractions that move food through the gastrointestinal tract). Eating can stimulate the bowels even more. Consuming food well ahead of the event helps prevent an untimely trip to the rest room.
– Athletes who exercise in the heat. Dehydration increases the likelihood of stomach aches, gas or stomach cramping.
– Athletes who participate in a high-intensity sport with a lot of running or jumping. While some athletes can handle a full stomach, the jarring taken by the body increases risk of stomach discomfort.
The following athletes should time food consumption to as close as 30mins before competition as possible and should eat during competition:
– Athletes who feel uncomfortably hungry during the event. Hunger can be distracting.
– Athletes who have a tendency to feel shaky or weak. These sensations can be symptoms of low blood sugar.
– Athletes who participate in an aerobic endurance event and want to maximise carbohydrate stores.
Some athletes who participate in long events (tournaments, all- day meets) like to eat shortly beforehand and continue snacking during competition to keep energy high and prevent hunger.
Eating foods that you don’t like at a time when nervous tension is high can cause nausea and vomiting. Therefore, personal preference and food tolerance must be considered. It is important for athletes to consume food and beverages
– That they like
– That they tolerate well,
– That they are used to consuming, and
– That they believe result in a winning performance.
Record keeping can be useful in helping athletes determine their best precompetition regimen. Recording the types and amounts of foods eaten, when in relation to the competition they were eaten (e.g 2 hours prior), how the athlete felt at the time of the event, and performance outcome can serve as a guide for fine-tuning the precompetition meal.
I was once told by my running coach to have a good meal of pasta the night before a race. I won the race the next day. From then on I always had pasta the night before any running or skating competition.
Carb loading is not essential however it is a technique used to enhance muscle glycogen prior to long-term aerobic exercise. The most effective regimen with the fewest side effects is three days of a high-carbohydrate diet in concert with tapering exercise the week before the competition and complete rest the day before the event. The degree of benefit from carb loading varies among individuals, even among aerobic endurance athletes, and therefore athletes should determine the value of this regimen before competition. Some athletes will experience side effects of this diet such as water retention and weight gain, flatulence and diarrhea on very high carb diets.
Post Exercise Food Consumption
It is suggested that high-GI foods consumed after exercise replenish glycogen faster than low-GI foods. For athletes who are training two or three times a day or who do not have long periods of time to recover, immediate consumption of carbohydrate in the form of foods or supplements may be beneficial. Consuming a well-balanced meal of every day foods such as fruit, vegetables and lean meat or fish ensures the availability of all substrates for adequate recovery, including amino acids.
If you think that a meal from Maccas, KFC, Carls Jr or BK will do the trick you need to get real and have a serious think about whether you should continue calling yourself an athlete.
Food consumption is such an important part of any athletes performance, eating balanced meals can do so much more for your health and performance than most people think. The amount of energy and calories that food possesses is crucial to performance. The number of calories an athlete needs depends on body size, demand of the sport, length of training, training conditions and age. Maintaining adequate caloric intake to support your training and competitive schedule is imperative if you want to be a successful athlete!