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Eat to compete

August 28, 2013
By Katie Koerner , Marshall Independent

Eating a well-balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do to promote optimal performance. Eating a variety of high-carbohydrate, low-fat foods and consuming enough fluid to avoid dehydration are key. To increase endurance, muscle strength and speed, you must eat to compete!

Get the athletic advantage with high-performance nutrition

Fuel up with pre-event preparation

Fuel up with familiar foods on competition day and allow adequate time for that food to digest. A large meal can take three to four hours to digest, a small meal can take two to three hours, and a snack will digest in one to two hours. A substantial pre-event meal will help prevent fatigue and ensure you have the fuel stores needed to power your way to peak performance. Include complex carbohydrates, lean protein, fruit and healthy fats. About two-thirds of your plate should be carbohydrates. Top off fuel stores with a carbohydrate-based snack one to two hours before competition.

During the event

Continue to refuel during competition, as needed, with carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluid to prevent fatigue and prevent depletion of fuel stores. Sports drinks, gels and bars are all efficient ways to refuel.

Refuel to recover post-competition

Refueling begins immediately after competition with a recovery snack consisting of carbohydrate and protein to refuel stores and repair damaged tissue. Chocolate milk can be a perfect sports recovery drink as it contains the ideal ratio of carbohydrate and protein to refuel muscles. Continue refueling with a meal one hour after the recovery snack.

Stay hydrated in the heat

Maintaining adequate hydration in the hot summer heat can be a challenge. Dehydration can severely impair athletic performance, making it crucial to go into a competition well-hydrated. Consume fluids throughout competition day, then hydrate two to three hours prior to competition with 16 ounces of fluid and again 10 to 20 minutes before event with 8 ounces of fluid. Fluid should be consumed during competition, and fluid replacement of all sweat loss should take place following competition. Choosing the right fluid for hydration is important. Water is appropriate for mild- to moderate-intensity exercise lasting less than 60 minutes. Sports drinks are preferred for high-intensity exercise lasting more than 60 minutes. Soft drinks and fruit juices are best avoided.

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Katie Koerner is a registered dietitian at the Marshall Hy-Vee Food Store.

 
 

 

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