FROM THE MOMENT YOU START TO TRAIN OR COMPETE,YOU GRADUALLY DEPLETE YOUR ENERGY SOURCE.
So you’ve fueled correctly before practice or a game – and as time ticks by, that fuel source empties out. Regardless of the sport, this happens to all athletes.
How you eat during competition can have far-reaching impacts, so knowing the best practices is critical for any athlete striving for optimal results.
Why properly refueling during competition is so important
To maintain your energy levels and stay at your peak potential, you need to think about what foods you should have during practice and competition. The wrong food choices can have a similar impact as they do prior to sports activity: you can end up sluggish and with digestion issues.
Best practices for eating during competition
You have to be pretty selective about what you eat during competition. You really don’t have time to eat and digest something like a bagel sandwich during halftimes or in between games. During exercise, you have less blood flowing to your stomach so your body is not able to digest food as well. Refueling during exercise has to be done with foods and beverages that can be digested quickly and sent directly to your muscles.
Here are some foods to always avoid during competition:
- Greasy foods like burgers, fries, chicken fingers
- Doughnuts, pastries, biscuits
- Pork sausage, bacon
- Large amounts of candy
- High fiber foods
- Sugar alcohols, found in sugar free gum and sugar free candy
- Any food that causes stomach distress for you
So what foods should you eat?
Sports products like energy gels and gummies are easy to digest and provide quick fuel to your muscles. Sports beverages are also a quick source of energy because they are liquid carbohydrate.
Some sports have natural breaks, such as halftimes or a break between games, where you’re able to eat a few small bites of foods that contain carbohydrates and digest quickly. Foods that each individual can tolerate during activity may vary, so experiment with foods during long workouts.
Foods you might choose during breaks in play include:
- A few bites of a banana or other fruit
- A few bites of an energy bar
- Small PBJ bites
- Dry cereal
- Energy gels
Combine these with a little water or sports beverage.
Not the time for protein
Protein foods are not the best choice during activity because they do not quickly refuel your body. You should turn to carbohydrate-type foods that will digest quickly. So even though many tout protein bars as beneficial, these don’t work during competition.
One more point – and this is a big one. In addition to eating the right foods for quick energy during activity, you need to stay hydrated. Hydration is critical for energy maintenance, and if you fail to hydrate, you will struggle to play at your peak potential.
Now you know what you need to do to eat right during competition. Use this knowledge to gain the edge over your competition!
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