When thinking about a pre-event meal, I couldn’t help but think about road trips. Before setting off, one is advised to prepare their vehicle and make sure it is in perfect condition and fueled. Your vehicle should always be fueled but during a trip you want to boost your reserves for a smooth journey. As a sportsperson your events are like the trips, you need to have proper nutrition throughout but also need a boost meal before the event, eat right to improve your game power.
A few days leading up to the sports activity, boosting carbohydrate intake, is helpful (we will discuss Carb –Loading soon). Your body stores a considerable amount of water as it stows away carbohydrate as muscle glycogen. Ensure that you drink plenty of beverages such as water, fruit juice, sports drinks, and low-fat milk with your meals and snacks.
The purpose of a pre-event meal is to provide the body with adequate energy, help maintain proper hydration before and during the competition. Failure to adhere to a proper pre-event nutrition and hydration, a Sportsperson risks easy injuries, early fatigue, longer recovery period which all can lead to poor performance.
On the night before an event, a sportsperson should stick to familiar foods that they enjoy rather than trying out new sources of energy giving foods. On the morning of the event, a sportsperson should have a carbohydrate rich meal 2- 4 hours to the event. Include simple carbohydrates that the body can uptake easily to get quick and fast energy.
Pre-event basics include a carbohydrate, lean protein most preferable chicken or fish. Make sure to consume these 2-4 hours prior to the sport event so as to give your body time to digest the food. If the game timing cannot allow a proper meal within the time frame and you only have an hour consider a snack like plain Yogurt and a banana that will give energy for the event.
Do not consume large meal portions as being too full can make you nauseous during an event. Pre-event meals should limit foods: high in fat, proteins like red meat and high fiber foods because they take a longer period to digest and may cause gas and stomach upsets when consumed just before the competition. Foods and drinks to avoid include sodas (they tend to dehydrate and make your stomach really uncomfortable), fatty foods like chips, this is because they take long to digest and can even make one Nauseous.
Examples of foods one can have as a pre-event meal: chicken breast with rice, and some vegetables, yogurt with a fresh fruit, fresh fruit juice, eggs, toasted bread or breakfast cereals. Do not overthink your pre-event meal, if you have an event say at 9am, you can eat your leftover dinner if it was well balanced, remember to include a carbohydrate, lean protein and some vegetables.
One needs to have followed proper nutrition throughout the training period to maximize on their game power.
Next time we unpack post event meal basics, see you then!
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By Eunice Nthenya,
MSA Nutrition Expert,
Certified Nutritionist, Nutrition By Nthenya