Timing, size and nutrient combination of a meal or snack go hand in hand. Whether eating at home or on the go, the pre-event meal should be high in carbohydrate, moderate in protein and lower in fat. This power-fuel combination is easy to digest and gives the athlete the confidence needed to fulfil their call of duty!
Whether eating at home or on-the-go, the goal is to ensure that food and fluid do not hinder but rather enhance exercise performance.
Pre-Performance Sport Nutrition Planning
|Timing Pre-Event||Guidelines||Meal/Snack Ideas|
|3 – 4 hours||FULL MEAL:High carbohydrate Moderate protein Decreased fat, avoid fried foods Fluid||– Pasta with tomato based meat sauce, dinner roll, fruit salad with low fat yogurt and water/low fat milk/fruit juice- Grilled chicken sandwich (mayo on the side), low fat muffin, and low fat milk/juice – Lean meat wrap/sub with veggies and low fat dressing or cheese. Apple slices and Milk.|
|2 – 3 hours||SMALLER MEAL:High carbohydrate Lower-Moderate Protein Low fat Fluid||– Turkey sandwich with mustard, hold the mayo. Banana. Milk- Oatmeal cooked in milk topped with yogurt and fruit. Water – Large fruit smoothie made with milk & low fat muffin|
|1 – 2 hours||SNACK:High carbohydrate Lower protein Low fat Fluid||– Low fat cottage cheese, apple, crackers and juice- Low fibre breakfast cereal, sliced banana with low fat milk – Liquid meal (nervous stomach)|
|< 1 hour||SMALL SNACK:High carbohydrate Low to no protein Low to no fat Fluid||– Cereal based trail mix and water/juice- Jam/honey sandwich and water – Piece of fruit|
|< 30 minutes||MINI SNACK:High Carbohydrate No protein No fat Fluid||– Sport drink (can be home made…1/2 fruit juice, ½ water, pinch of salt)- Fruit/vegetable juice – Pretzels and apple sauce (or other pureed fruit)|
Plan ahead and be prepared! Remember, the purpose of the pre-event meal or snack is to top up energy stores and hydrate so the athlete can perform their personal best.
- Plan and prepare meals and snacks in advance so that nutrition is not left to chance.
- Choose high carbohydrate, low fat foods that are familiar and well tolerated.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day up until your event.
- Experiment and practice with type and timing of meals and snacks in training.
- Try liquid or low fibre meals if pre-event nerves or other gastrointestinal upset arise.
- Keep track by monitoring what works so you have a solid eating plan the day of competition.
- Work with a dietitian who has experience working with athletes.
Meals & Snack at Home or On-the-Go
At the Deli/Gas Station
|MEALS:Pasta with low-fat tomato sauce, Dinner roll, Orange, Low-fat yogurt, Water/low fat milk/juice Pancakes with yogurt & berries, ham, and juice||Lean meat sandwich, veggies, low fat dressing/cheese, Apple slices, Milk /juice/waterMinestrone soup, crackers, yogurt with fruit salad, and juice||Grilled chicken sandwich, sauce on the side, Apple slices/yogurt parfait, Milk/juiceBagel with peanut butter and jam, Milk|
|SNACKS:Nut with cocoa spread and banana wrap, Milk Smoothie with low fat muffin Homemade sports drink (1/2 juice, ½ water, pinch of salt)||Raisins & pretzels Sports drink Fruit bars, low fat cereal bars Crackers & cheese strings Oatmeal cookies & low fat milk Trail mix & cereal||Milk/Chocolate milk Cereal bars Pretzels (hard) Fruit bar Juice|
Food choices will be based on preferences, meal timing and where you will be. Keeping a backpack with snack options can save an athlete from having to make poor choices before the event.