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When you want to perform your best before a competition, what you eat could tip the scale for or against you in a tight battle. Food choices can enhance or hinder your performance. Dangers of not eating properly before the sporting event include becoming dizzy, nauseous, fatigued, weak and indecisive. If you eat right, you can maximize your energy and can perform at your best.
Athletes eat carbohydrates to enhance athletic performance; carbs fuel muscles. One day or even several days before the event, load up on carbs, which are starches and sugars. Carbs should take up 70 percent of your diet the day before the event or up to three or four days before, according to MayoClinic.com. Try to eat 4 grams of carbs for every pound you weigh, so if you weigh 180 pounds, you would eat around 720 grams of carbs the day before the event. Good carbs to eat the day before competition include an oat bagel, raisins, whole-wheat bread, baked tortilla chips, low-fat or frozen yogurt, brown rice, baked potato, fruit juices, spaghetti with tomato sauce, pancakes with syrup, thick-crust cheese pizza, bananas, dry cereal, waffles, pretzels and English muffins.
Do not eat only carbs before the sporting event; eat some fat and protein. Good choices include fat-free milk, peanut butter, honey, roasted chicken breast, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise-based salad dressing, low-fat vinaigrette dressing, carrots and salmon. MayoClinic.com recommends that you have a salad at lunch and dinner with only 2 tablespoons of salad dressing. Mayonnaise-based dressing contains 7 grams of carbs compared to vinaigrette, which contains 1 gram, but it also contains more calories, so use it in moderation. Right before a competition is not the time to experiment with new foods. You could risk stomach upset or cramps. Choose foods you like and that you know you can tolerate.
Hydrate yourself before the competition and to keep yourself hydrated during and after the event. Dehydration is a serious condition that could cause you to retire from the competition and could be potentially fatal. Drink plenty of water, juice or sports drinks. The day before the event, drink a normal amount: Men should drink about 13 cups of beverages a day, and women should drink about 9 cups. About two to three hours before the event, drink 16 ounces of water. You can tell whether you have had enough liquids if your urine is colorless or light yellow. Weigh yourself before and after the competition. You need to drink 1 to 3 cups of liquid for every pound you lose during the event.
What Not to Eat
Avoid foods high in fat and protein such as hamburgers, fries, potato chips, steak, eggs, hot dogs, bacon, candy, nuts and doughnuts because those foods take a long time to digest without providing much energy. Also, avoid spicy foods, broccoli, onions, cabbage, beans and carbonated drinks because they can cause gas, which is not ideal before an athletic event. The same goes for bran and any other fibrous foods that stimulate defecation. Drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol should be avoided the day before the event because they are diuretics and can lead to dehydration.