Contrary to popular belief, we’re not actually fueling for our workouts the day of.
In fact, glycogen stores take 24-36 hours to synthesize so what matters more is what you’re eating the days BEFORE your competition.
So how do we properly fuel to ensure optimal performance and recovery on the big day?
⚡REFEED THE DAY BEFORE
Because glycogen stores replenish slowly, it’s a good idea to “carb-up” the day before a competition. It depends on the athlete but 50 to 100% more carbs than normal is a good place to start. If you don’t track your macros, try to get in an additional 50-100g of carbs (for reference, a bagel has about 50g of carbs).
⚡MAKE SURE YOU’RE HYDRATED
Did you know that even a 1% level of dehydration can lead to a 10% decrease in performance? Water has a major impact on your body’s ability to perform well. Not to mention, ensuring you’re getting enough water and electrolytes helps prevent cramping, which can ultimately make or break your performance in an event.
This can be tough if you’re dealing with nerves, but space out some time the night before to de-compress (however you like to do that — warm bath, read a book, etc.). Don’t scroll your phone in bed and try to avoid the TV and computer 90 minutes before bedtime. And get in bed early enough to sleep 7+ hours.
⚡AVOID NEW FOODS + FIBER
To avoid any digestive woes, it’s a good idea to not introduce any new foods to your diet the day before your event. Also, avoid eating foods high in fiber during the competition (more on intra-competition fueling below).
⚡GET IN A SOLID BREAKFAST
Yes, you may have some nerves but try to get up early and get in a solid breakfast, even if it’s small. Try to make in light on fat and fiber. Good breakfast options are egg whites with toast, banana, oatmeal with fruit, etc. No nut butters, avocado, oils.
⚡CONSUME A PROTEIN/CARB AFTER EACH EVENT
Try to get in a small snack of protein and carbs after each event to aid in recovery and ensure you’re ready for the next event. If there’s not at least 90 minutes before the next event, keep this light. This is where a protein/carb shake is really helpful. Otherwise, if the break is longer, try to get in a little food 90-120 minutes before the next event. Good, portable snacks for this include:
- Protein + Carb: Fuel for Fire packs, low-fat protein bar, proats
- Protein: Egg whites, chicken breast, lean ground turkey, protein powder
- Carbs: Rice cakes, rice, oats, carb powders, baby food, bananas, gummies
Make sure you’re meal post-competition is one full of proteins and carbs. After that, don’t stress about your nutrition. Go out and celebrate the day. Listen to your body and don’t worry about staying under a certain amount of calories. Listen to what your body needs and put it in the best position to recover so you can get back to training in the next couple of days.