Before You Compete

Before competition? Choose a pre-event meal or snack—light, easy to digest, high-carbohydrate—that matches your physical performance goals. In that way you can perform to your ability without tiring too soon. Eating helps prevent the distraction of hunger pangs. Although eating won't provide immediate energy, it can supply energy for exercise that lasts an hour or more. Drink enough, too, to fully hydrate your body before strenuous exercise.

The "right" pre-event meal or snack differs from athlete to athlete, event to event, and time of day. During your training, experiment with different foods, food combinations, amounts, and timing.

Timing. Finish eating one to four hours before your workout or competition. That allows enough time for food to digest so you don't feel full or uncomfortable.

What about morning competition? Eat a hearty, high-carbohydrate dinner and bedtime snack the night before. Then in the morning, eat a light, high-carbohydrate meal or snack. Eating two hours before exercise helps replenish your liver glycogen and satisfy hunger.

Small meals. Choose a small meal or snack. The amount depends on what makes you feel comfortable.

High "carbs."Enjoy a high-"carb" meal or snack that's moderate in protein and low in fat. It gets digested and absorbed faster. (About V2 gram to 2 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight is about right.)

Make pasta, rice, potatoes, or bread the "center" of your plate. A high-fat meal may cause indigestion

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