Turf Games : Eating correctly on the day of the event
The big day is finally upon you! Months of gruelling team training sessions have culminated in GAME DAY! The best of the best are ready and raring to go and eager to showcase what they’re made of!
A large amount of focus, undoubtedly and understandably, goes into the months of training and ensuring your nutrition is on point in the lead up to the big day, but it’s important not to forget about what you eat on competition day itself. For some, nerves may get the better of you and for others, you may simply get caught up in the day’s activities and so food may be the last thing on your mind!
What to eat before the first workout?
Pre-workout nutrition is vital to ensure you are adequately fuelled for the workouts ahead. Everyone is different and it is worth experimenting with the time-frames for your pre-workout meal ahead of the big day to see how your body responds. 1-2 hours before game time is usually optimal for most.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source, even more so for the intense sessions you will be doing on the day, so consuming a meal focussed around carbs before you get going is generally advised.
Carbohydrates consumed are metabolised into glucose. Excess glucose is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen and can be quickly converted back into glucose if required.
Glycogen (the storage form of glucose) stores within the body are limited, and depletion of these stores has been found to negatively impact exercise performance, leaving you feeling fatigued and exhausted. You may be familiar with the feeling when you’ve ‘hit a wall’ and feel like you can’t give anymore. When glycogen levels are extremely low in muscle stores, the body is forced to revert to utilising protein to produce glucose, which can lead to muscle damage and even overtraining if sustained for a period of time. The latter definitely wants to be avoided or at least the onset delayed for as long as possible, so get your carbs in ahead of time and the morning of, and that’s one less thing to worry about!
Fresh Fitness Food's couple of go-to’s for your pre-workout brekkie are overnight oats, porridge (with all the toppings) and yoghurt with fruit and granola. All are quick and versatile breakfast options, with minimal preparation. In particular, overnight oats, which you can make the night before and enjoy on-the-go the following day - perfect if you have a bit of a journey to the event.
What to eat during / in between workouts?
As the workouts are set out in relatively short, sharp bursts and the gaps between each event aren’t overly long, eating in between workouts isn’t essential, especially if you have fuelled adequately in the lead up and the morning of. It will definitely come down to personal preference and what you’re able to stomach. If you need a bit of a pick me up before the next round though, reach for something small and easy on the stomach such as a banana, some malt loaf or a flapjack.
What to eat post-event?
Post-workout is all about recovery - carbs to refuel your muscles and high-quality protein to initiate the repair of muscle tissue.
- Home-made shakes are really handy to have post-workout as you are able to pack in plenty of carbs and protein in an easily digestible form. Try one with protein powder, milk, berries and oats. Protein is increasingly important after a tough session to help build and repair muscle and aid with recovery.
- Hummus and crudites/ rice cakes - not only are chickpeas packed with plant-based protein, they are also a source of carbs, making them a sensible choice post-workout when paired with crudites or rice cakes
- Omelette with avocado, spinach and tomato - eggs offer a great source of protein to assist with muscle repair, whilst pairing it with veggies provides a good dose of fibre to keep you full.
- Chicken breast with steamed vegetables and whole grain noodles - chicken is one of the leanest animal protein sources available which will assist with muscle recovery. Serving this great protein source with a portion of whole grains will provide us with slow release carbohydrates which will replenish our glycogen stores.
- A Fresh Fitness Food To Go meal - tasty and nutritious - need we say more?!
It’s important to find out what works for you as there are no set guidelines - what works for your team mate, may not be suitable for you. Trial your nutrition strategy ahead of the main event as you would not want to negatively impact your performance.
Be sure to watch your caffeine intake, especially close to the workouts. Although it can give you the boost you may need to power through, it can cause some GI discomfort which is the last thing you want on the big day.
Last but by no means least, ensure you hydrate adequately throughout the day, taking small sips of water on at regular intervals, especially if it is a warm day and sweat rates are high.
Last of all, GOOD LUCK and ENJOY!
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Article written by Fresh Fitness Food nutritionist