Preparing for an athletic competition properly can make or break your performance on the big day. You spend so much time training your body to perform at its highest level. It should be in your best interest to fuel your body with the correct foods so that you can maximize the benefits of your training.
Proper nutrition must be recognized months prior to a big competition and will not be effective if taken into consideration the day before the event. If followed correctly, a proper nutrition plan can significantly benefit an athlete’s performance. Make sure you are prepped and ready to go for this year’s Flex on the Mall and Flex on the beach competitions.
You should give your body plenty of time to digest a meal before competition. Depending on the size of the meal is the amount of time you should give yourself before you compete. For example, a large meal should be eaten at least 3-4 hours before an event. A smaller meal should be eaten at least 2-3 hours before the event. For blended smoothies or other liquid food, you should allow at least 1-2 hours to digest before exercise. And for small snacks, these need less than 1 hour to digest before you compete.
Athletes should be constantly hydrating throughout the day before and the day of a competition. Right before competition, (less than 30 min) athletes should only take small sips of water and avoid drinking large amounts to avoid upsetting the stomach and bloating. Sport drinks are only appropriate for situations where the competition will be lasting longer than an hour. They help to replenish lost electrolytes which are needed to create a suitable energy supply during exercise.
Before an event, you should eat foods that you are comfortable with, and not make drastic changes to your diet, to avoid upsetting your stomach. Your meal before the competition should be high in carbohydrates and fluids. Such carbohydrates include pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, and some vegetables. It should also be lower in protein and fats, as these will create stomach cramping if eaten soon before competition because they take longer to digest than carbohydrates.
Depending on the time of the competition, you should plan your meals accordingly. For example, if you have an event in the morning, you should consume your high-carb meal the night before and consume a lot of water as well. If the event is in the middle of the day or night, you should eat a large breakfast or lunch combined with small snacks throughout the day leading up the big event.
If you have a competition lasting all day, make sure to plan the day ahead by resting and eating high carb meals all day. If you have time for a small breakfast in the morning, you should include that. If not, then be sure to snack on high carb, low-fat snacks throughout the day, at least every 2 hours. Be sure to include a lot of water in your diet as well throughout the day to keep your body hydrated and able to perform through the long day.
After the event, be sure to replenish your body with high protein meals to help your muscles recover. Make sure to drink a lot of water as well to replace fluids that your body has lost by sweating after a long day of competing. All in all, just do your best to eat clean and avoid processed foods especially right before the event.
Giving your body enough time to digest and drinking tons of water is essential in allowing your body to perform at its highest level. This year’s Flex on the Mall in D.C. and Flex on the Beach in Long Beach, N.Y. are going to be very competitive! Make sure you are doing everything you can to give yourself the best chance to succeed!
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