Eating for Competition: Sports Performance

As we head into finals for swimming, I thought I’d share a few thoughts with my athletes, but also could apply to all Falcons on eating for optimal performance as they prepare for their upcoming competitions, especially evening events which can be tricky. My years of being a competitive distance runner I’ve learned some lessons seeing what my stomach can tolerate. Learning this stuff early is so important – you are never too young to treat your body well or act like a professional athlete. The fewer stressors you have the more you can enjoy the night and focus on your race!

2 nights before: most important meal, carbs, etc. HYDRATE
1 night before: clean foods, carbs/protein/veg HYDRATE

Morning of race: PLEASE enjoy eating a good, big breakfast. Fruit, Oatmeal with milk/almond milk, nuts; yogurt/granola, waffles with PB, pancakes, eggs and bacon, toast. etc, HYDRATE! Bananas are great for preventing cramps and act like natures gatorade! If dairy is an issue, avoid dairy.

Lunch: Maybe bring your lunch to school today. Eat simple, basic foods that you are used to eating, nothing new or crazy, HYDRATE! Sandwiches, pastas, rice, chicken, light veggies, chips, fruit, yogurt and maybe a treat like a cookie or something that makes you smile.

3-4 hours prior to your competition: Eat your last meal, like subway meat and cheese sub, baked chips, no heavy sauces or major veggies, or PB & J, or pasta with a little protein, rice and chicken.  Simple foods.

HYDRATE! Try and get your biggest drinking done (8-16 oz of water/sports drink) 2 hours out. After that sip…it takes 2 hours to process and eliminate fluids (just sayin’)

RACE AND RECOVER. If you have a race right away say at like 7, and then an hour or so wait, plan to bring crackers and cheese, granola bars or some fruit (light protein is good) something to eat quick right after that first race to recover and then sip water/sports drink until your next race. You want to keep your blood sugars balanced and ready to go again. Sport beans, sugar based candies, quick simple carbs, a little fruit are fine in between.

Warm up during set times and within an hour of your event. This gets your heart rate going again after sitting around and reminds your mind and body what it’s preparing to do. MUSIC! Bring tunes, dance, get fired up. Show your Falcon spirit!

Get after it!—Melissa Gacek