Whether it's a championship game, the longest road ride you have ever done, or competing in an Ironman, nutrition leading up to "the day" can be difficult to get right to optimize performance. Especially when you factor nervousness in to the mix.
As there isn't usually much time for trial and error, we thought we would ask CrossFit Games competitor Steph Chung, for some advice on optimizing your nutrition for game day success. Here's her advice:
Weeks/Days Leading Up To The Event
- Eat familiar foods in normal quantities. Be sure to get sufficient and consistent quantities of food throughout the week. As I get closer to game day I start ramping my carb intake. Keep eating, keep eating.
- Make sure to eat good quality, whole-food meals to. Eat plenty of lean protein; choose starchy carbs such as sweet potato, white potato, and rice; and include a healthy dose of good fats such as avocado, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish. Stick to stuff that you find easy on your stomach
Pre-Event: Morning Athletes
- Wake up with plenty of time to eat a full breakfast before you compete. This could range from 1.5 to 3 hours, and is different for every athlete. As a rule, give more time than normal as nerves can interfere with your hunger level. Try different meal timings in advance if you don’t normally eat before training.
- Be sure to get a good amount of carbs, protein, but stay light on fat to ensure full digestion. Eat even if you don't feel hungry.
- You may want to drink a carb shake or eat some fast-digesting carbs prior to your warm up. This will depend on the type of workout and your personal needs as an athlete. If you’re unsure of an appropriate pre-game regimen, test some different methods on normal gym days and see what works best for you.
- If you typically require caffeine as a pre-workout stimulant, then use this according to your normal routine. I suggest staying away from caffeine if you don’t normally consume it before your workouts and don't change your habit at all if you are a regular drinker. Basically, now is NOT the time to do something different.
Pre-Event: Evening Athletes
- Eat normally during the day, ideally eating two full meals prior to going to the gym. Your last meal should be 1.5-3 hours before your warm up, to ensure full digestion - and it should be relatively light. Make sure you eat even if you aren't hungry. This will be nerves.
- You may want to drink a carb shake or eat some fast-digesting carbs prior to your warm up, especially if your last meal was several hours prior to arriving at the gym. Use this carefully to fine tune your energy level.
- As mentioned above, use caffeine according to your normal routine. I suggest staying away from caffeine if you don’t normally consume it before your workouts.
- Cool down (stretching, easy bike) and then consume a protein shake and some easily-digestible carbs in the form of a shake, fruit, or dried fruits such as dates in order to facilitate recovery. This is particularly important if you need to get back to training right away. Blonyx's egg white protein isolate is a great option for taste and convenience here. High quality natural protein and carbs in good balance
- To maximize recovery, choose good quality foods in your meals following the workout. Follow the same guidelines as you use for the days leading up to the workout - plenty of lean protein, good carb sources, and a dose of healthy fats.
With your nutrition under control, you'll get the most out of your body! If you have inquiries regarding this article or want to sign up for personalized nutrition advice, please send a message to email@example.com and she'll be happy to help!