Food to fuel your exercise
Whatever your sport, nutrition prior to a race or competition should not differ much from your training nutrition. Many athletes put too much focus on the pre- exercise meal and its effect on performance.
It is the food eaten throughout the week and indeed the days and weeks leading up to competition that will aid your performance, reduce time to fatigue and reduce injury.
WHEN TO EAT?
Timing of foods is important pre-exercise and competition to ensure you are getting the benefits from your food, it can only be available as fuel once digested and absorbed. The time required for digestion depends on the type of food. High fat, high protein and high fibre foods tend to take longer to digest than lower fibre, low fat foods.
The general rule is to have your main meal three to four hours before exercise and if you require, a lighter snack one to two hours before exercise, depending on the length of your session and time of day.
3-4 HOURS BEFORE EXERCISE
This meal should contain slow releasing carbohydrate, lean protein and ideally be low in fat and don't forget salad/vegetables.
* Baked potato with tuna/cottage cheese/ baked beans & glass of low fat milk.
* Spaghetti bolognaise made with tomato sauce and extra lean mince.
* Chicken with brown or basmati rice and vegetables.
* Breakfast cereal such as unsweetened muesli or porridge oats with low fat milk.
2 HOURS BEFORE EXERCISE?
If you need to eat within a couple of hours of exercise, this meal or snack should be mostly carbohydrate.
* Breakfast cereal with low fat milk
* Cereal bar (check labels)
* Fruit flavoured low fat yogurt
* Fresh Fruit – banana
It is best to avoid eating too close to exercise. If you have to eat, avoid high intakes of carbohydrate and choose a food or drink with a high glycaemic index that is going to be absorbed quickly and be available for fuel.
These could include an isotonic sports drink, a ripe banana or a cordial drink such as miwadi.