It’s not easy planning a pre-competition meal. There is no single meal that will work for everyone. It is very important to sample different meal plans in the weeks prior to the competition and get to know what works for your body. The following offers generalities regarding pre-sport food for fuel.
High carbohydrates, low fat, and adequate protein are the three variables which will work together to enable the body to perform in the utmost efficient manner throughout the event.
Carbohydrates: Needed to prevent glycogen depletion. Meals which include complex carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, and rice will take longer to break down and provide energy at a slower rate than simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are eaten leading up to and several hours in advance of event time. Simple carbohydrates include items such as fruit, energy drinks and gels. Simple carbohydrates are used within 0 – 1 hour before the start time and during an endurance competition.
Fats: One gram of fat offers 9 calories of energy. This is the highest concentration of energy out of all the nutrients. It is necessary in providing the stamina for longer endurance sports because it helps the body use glycogen stores (carbohydrates). Beware! It takes a long time to convert fat into a usable form of energy (up to 6 hours) and the wrong type of fat (French fries, greasy burgers) can cause horrible stomach upset.
Protein: In order to build and repair muscle tissue, the body needs high quality protein. It also aids in the optimization of glycogen storage. Protein is difficult for the body to store and therefore a constant supply is necessary. Healthy protein sources include: 3 ounce portions of fish, poultry, tofu, cheese, lean meat. 8 ounces of milk. 3 ounces of cheese. 2 Tablespoons of Natural Peanut Butter, 2 large eggs.
In general, begin food fueling for the event 4 to 5 days ahead. Make sure to build glycogen stores. Be aware of the amount of fiber consumed. A diet high in fiber before an event will cause gastrointestinal upset. If possible, consume a meal high in complex carbohydrates, healthy fat, and at least 1.2 to 1.4 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight of protein.
The Pre-Event Breakfast (4-5 hours prior to start time): Portion size based upon a 115 – 125 lb woman
Note: The following breakfast was consumed 5 hours before a local Duathlon in Hamilton, New York. 6K cross country skiing and 5K run.
- 1/4 cup dry Steel Cut Gluten Free Oats (If you don’t have a history of gluten intolerance, e.g. discomfort after eating wheat products, regular steel cut oats are sufficient).
- 1 cup water (add more or less depending on how thick or thin you like the oats)
- 1/2 banana, sliced
- 1 TBS raisins
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 TBS Natural Peanut Butter
- 1/3 cup fresh berries (such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)
Place ingredients, oats through cinnamon, in a pan on the stove top. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes. *Make them the night before and quickly heat up in the microwave for “over night oats”. Add peanut butter and berries on the side with the oats.
Muscle Fuel Protein Shake
- 1 scoop High quality protein (approx. 15 g protein per 1 scoop) *scoop provided with protein mix.
- 1/3 cup ice
- 8 oz water
- 1 TBS Natural Peanut Butter
Mix all the above in a blender until thoroughly mixed.
Sources: Components of a Good Pre-Event Meal, The Pre-Competition Meal