Energy for Competition Day

Energy for Competition Day

Performing in all day competitions during the weekend can make it difficult for athletes to sustain energy levels throughout the day. Knowing what foods to snack on can be tricky because you want to eat something nutrient dense that will also give you an extra energy boost without slowing you down.

1. What should your Competition Meal Be?

The bulk of your meal should include carbohydrates with some proteins and fat. Proteins will help with building and repairing muscles, but only very little is utilized for energy. You also want to try to limit fat intake, as this is usually only utilized in endurance runners for energy during prolonged continuous activity.

Remember timing of meals is just as important as what you eat.

  • 1 hour prior to competition 1g/kg of carbs should be consumed.
  • 2 hours prior competition 2g/kg of carbs should be consumed.
  • 3 hours prior to competition 3g/kg of carbs should be consumed
  • 4 hours prior to competition 4g/kg of carbs should be consumed

If you are someone who gets upset stomachs when eating right before competition, consider liquid meals such as shakes, juices or sports drinks with carbohydrates, etc, as these liquids should be easier to digest and still provide some of the carbs you need. Eating simple carbs closer to competition provide a quicker energy boost. Watch out for foods high in sugar that can cause crashes. Complex carbs such as whole grains in breads, grains, and pastas, as well as vegetables and fruits are great choices for a steady source of energy throughout the day.  Some carb choices to include are oatmeal, pasta with tomato sauce, pancakes or waffles. Your can also try a liquid meal such as a protein shake mixed with fruits, which include combination of carbs and proteins.

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate …. Oh did I say hydrate? 

Drink water before the onset of thirst and stay hydrated throughout the day. Your body cannot perform at optimal levels when your dehydrated.

If the competition is

  • less than 1 hour – water is recommended to replenish fluids lost through sweat.
  • longer than 1 hour – should include a sports drink such as Gatorade to help replenish electrolytes that water cannot do alone.  

Remember to not over hydrate. Hyponatremia can occur which is a dilution of sodium in your blood that could cause swelling of the brain, confusion or muscle weakness.

3. 3 Simple Rules for Post Game Recovery

Post competition meals should include a combination of proteins and carb rich foods to help aid recovery. Most importantly don’t forget to drink water and hydrate!

Hydrate with water to replace fluids lost through sweat. Sports drinks can also be used to hydrate after prolonged high intensity activity lasting longer than 1 hour, but should be limited due to high sugar contents.

Protein is an essential part of athlete recovery because it enhances protein synthesis, which aids in muscle repair and muscle building. Chocolate milk can be a good source of recovery because of its high protein and carb content to aid in quicker muscle recovery.

Carbohydrates will help replenish muscle and liver glycogen stores that have been used up during competition. Consume 1 hour post competition to ensure optimal uptake of carbs.


by Owen Ng

Interested in learning more about sports nutrition? A workbook may help you reach your goals!

Further Reading:

Sports Nutrition Workbook

6 Portable Protein Snacks

Name That Grain

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