As the summer Vegas heat creeps upon us, so does the start of competition season. Whether you are competing in your first competition, or your hundredth, it is completely normal to feel nervous! There are a lot of things that are out of your control on competition day, but what you eat to fuel your very exciting day should not be one of those things. The way you decide to eat the morning of as well as during your competition is going to have an immense impact on your performance and recovery in the following days. There are some important points for us to hit when discussing competition day nutrition:
- Avoid new foods/drinks
Although it may be tempting to try that new pre-workout powder, or have your first Bang energy drink, your body may disagree with this decision. While nerves are high, it is best not to try anything new. Your stomach is probably going to be a little finicky. Trust me on this one. Stick to the foods and drinks that your body is comfortable with. There are better times to experiment!
When you are dehydrated, there are many different things that happen to your body that lead to a decrease in performance. Dehydration leads to higher body temperatures, higher heart rate, and lower blood flow. All of these things will make competing a LOT harder. Make sure you drink a minimum of 80 ounces of water the day before a competition, and keep this hydration going throughout the day you compete. Assuming it is a hot vegas day and you will be sweating a little more than normal, it will be necessary to keep a consistent intake of water before and after events. Running to the porta potty can be annoying, but it is much better than being dehydrated and having your performance suffer.
- Pre-competition meal
- Depending on how early the competition starts, you will probably have a few hours between waking up and your first event. That being said, it is important to make sure you have some energy ready to burn. If you are used to eating before working out, you can eat a decently sized meal. If you are used to training really early and do not usually have a meal pre-workout, get in a more “snack” sized meal. This pre-workout meal should have protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Like mentioned earlier, try not to introduce any new foods that you never eat before training, or something that might make you feel queasy. Stick to what you are used to!
Some of my favorite pre-competition meals are: protein oats with fresh fruit and almond butter, an omelette with veggies and a bagel, or steak tacos with fresh tomatoes and pesto.
- Fueling throughout the day
- Depending on the individual, you may be really hungry after your workouts or have no appetite at all. Regardless, it is important to make sure you get carbohydrates and protein between each event. You should save the rest of your fat for your post competition meal, as eating too much fat (peanut butter, avocado, etc) in between events will slow your digestion.
My go to refuel options between events are: hawaiin rolls, gatorade, fruit, applesauce, rice cakes, beef jerky, protein powder with water, and tuna packets.
- Post-competition recovery food
- In most cases, you are going to want to go out to dinner or have some sort of post-competition celebration. While this is a perfectly good situation in which to indulge, make sure you get plenty of protein in this meal, and the remainder of your fats that you missed out on while you were competing. If you replenish your body properly with a meal well balanced in protein, carbohydrates, and fat, you will have a much better chance at full body recovery within the next few days. So go ahead and enjoy a beer and fun meal with your friends, but do not forget that your body has performed for you during your competition, so it is your job to properly refuel it for the days to come!