Pre-competition Meals for Athletes
When it comes to pre-competition eating, each person has individual food preferences. Therefore, no one single food or "magic meal" will ensure top performance. The pre-competition meal helps to:
The goal of the pre-competition meal is to enhance stamina and endurance without causing any stomach discomfort. Eating too much food can have adverse effects(nausea, stomach cramps);so can eating too little (lack of energy). Athletes who get very nervous, stressed or have sensitive stomachs may prefer to abstain completely from food. They should make a special effort to eat extra food the day before to be well fueled for the competition.
Carbohydrates are the best pre-competition foods because they digest quickly and are readily available for fuel. Some popular choices include cereal, bread, bagel, crackers, potato and pasta. Protein-rich foods (eggs, tuna, steak, chicken, etc) take longer to digest and may increase the need to urinate. Fats (fried foods, peanut butter, burgers, etc) stay longest in the stomach and may feel heavy and uncomfortable.
Pay attention to meal timing. With morning events, eat a hearty, high carbohydrate dinner and bed-time snack the night before. That morning, eat a light meal 2-3 hours before competition or workout. For afternoon events, eat a hearty breakfast and a light carbohydrate-based lunch 2-3 hours prior to the exercise. With evening events, eat a hearty breakfast and lunch, then perhaps a light snack 1-2 hours prior. In general you should allow 3-4 hours for a large meal to digest; 2-3 hours for a smaller meal, 1-2 hours for a liquid meal and 0-1 hour for a small snack.
Always eat familiar foods prior to competition. Experiment with new foods during training to determine if they settle well, cause "acid stomach" gas, heart burn, cramps or intestinal discomfort.
There isnt any one pre-event meal that will compensate for a poor training diet. Therefore, you should eat a high carbohydrate diet every day to prevent chronic energy depletion.