What you eat and drink in the 24 to 48 hours before competing will determine how much glycogen your muscles will have available to use for energy during your event and how hydrated you will be. Over this time period you should ensure you are well hydrated; choose high carbohydrate, low fat meals; and limit your activity to rest or light training.
The pre-event meal
- Choose a meal enjoyable and familiar to you. You will need to experiment with different types of meals during your normal training week until you find a meal that you feel comfortable with using prior to your training / games.
- Eat the pre-event meal 1 to 4 hours prior to the start of your game. 3 hours before is suitable for most athletes. Experiment with the timing of the pre-exercise meal in your training week until you find out what time you need to eat that meal to prevent stomach discomfort, bloating, excessive fullness or hunger. Base the meal on plenty of low ‘glycaemic index’ carbohydrates (ideally 1 to 4grams of carbohydrate per kilo of body weight), some protein and very little fat or fibre.
- Sip on fluid throughout the period leading up to the event. Your urine should be clear prior to the start of training/game. Yellow/coloured urine is a sign of dehydration, which impairs performance by worsening concentration, co-ordination, fatigue and nausea.
- If you experiment to find out the best types and timing for you, and practice preparing these meals, you will have an extra edge over your opponents.
Suitable pre-event meals
- Pasta with a tomato-based sauce
- Cereal (e.g. Sports plus, Weetbix, Porridge, Just Right, Special K or untoasted muesli) with skim or trim milk
- Ham/chicken/tuna & salad sandwich or roll (low GI bread)
- Stir-fry with noodles or basmati rice
- Pancakes with fruit & low fat yoghurt
- Raisin toast with banana & honey
- Baked beans on toast (low GI bread)
- Toast (low GI bread) with reduced fat cheese & vegemite
- Low fat fruit muffin & yoghurt
- Toasted English muffin with cottage cheese & jam
If you get nervous or nauseous before competing
- Try liquid meals (e.g. Sustagen, fruit smoothie or sports drink)
- Try plainer foods (e.g. bananas, bread or crackers)
- Try having small, frequent snacks rather than a proper meal
Keys to rapid and complete recovery after training or competing:
- Carbohydrate ASAP after the event, to restore your muscle and liver glycogen stores. This will help ensure that you will have enough energy for your muscles and brain to use in your next event. Have 1gram of carbohydrate for each kilo you weigh.
- Protein to enable muscles to repair and adapt to the stress of competing. Include 10-20g of protein within your recovery meal.
- Fluid and electrolytes to replace those lost in sweat. Water has a role in energy production, concentration, mental alertness & prevention of heat stress, endurance & exercise performance. You need to drink 1.5 times the amount of weight you’ve lost during the event (e.g. if you’ve lost 1kg, drink 1.5 litres within 2 hours of finishing the event). It is ideal to maintain your weight during a training session or event. Aim to do this by drinking between 150 to 300ml of fluid every 15 min.
- If you are no organised your recovery will suffer. You need to pre-organise a suitable recovery pack for each training and event. Store appropriate non-perishable recovery foods and fluids in your training bag, locker, desk or car.
- If your training session or event/game doesn’t finish until late at night, prepare your meal in advance so it can be heated and served as soon as you arrive home.
- If you feel queasy after a hard training session, have a liquid meal such as a smoothie, Sustagen milkshake or sports drink. Alternatively try plain foods or small snacks.
Ideal recovery meals for a 50kg athlete
(Note: if you weigh 75kg you will need about1.5 times these amounts)
Have one of the following options immediately after every training session and game/event:
- 2 cups breakfast cereal with skim milk
- 1 scone with honey/jam + 1 glass protein drink (made on milk)
- 2 slices toast with 2 tbsp light peanut butter
- 200mL low fat yoghurt + a piece of fruit or glass of juice
- 1.5 cups spaghetti bolognaise (made with lean mince)
- 200g baked beans + 40g reduced fat cheese + 2 slices toast
- Stirfry made with 70g lean chicken/lamb/beef + 1 cup rice + some veggies
- 2 handfuls of nuts + 1 sports bar
- 450ml protein drink (e.g. Sustagen or milo) made on milk
- 100g tinned tuna/salmon/sardines + 6 Premium crackers or crispbreads
- 200mL protein drink + 2 morning coffee or milk arrowroot biscuits
- 1 Powerbar or Creatine bar + 200mL sports drink
- 200mL low fat yoghurt + a scone or muffin or muesli bar
- 100g tinned tuna/salmon/sardines + 2 slices white bread + 200mL sports drink
- 1 jam and cheese sandwich
- 500mL low fat flavoured milk + 2 morning coffee or milk arrowroot biscuits
- 2 thick slices of watermelon + 300mL flavoured milk or yoghurt
- 1 1/2 toasted ham, cheese & tomato sandwiches
- 300mL milkshake or fruit smoothie
- 2 x 200g tubs of yoghurt
- 1 sandwich including meat/chicken/cheese + 1 piece of fruit
- 1.5 cups fruit salad + 100g fruit yoghurt or frozen yoghurt