Whether you are preparing for an all day swim meet, volleyball tournament, or baseball doubleheader, make sure you have a nutrition plan in place to keep you going strong through the final event. Here are some sports nutrition tips you can use as you prepare for your next all day competition.
Make Breakfast the Foundation of Your Day
Starting the day with a well-planned breakfast can ensure you have laid the foundation to provide your body with the nutrients needed to fuel a full day of activity. Make sure your breakfast contains a good source of carbohydrates, a moderate amount of lean protein, and is low in fat. If you have morning jitters and have trouble eating, you can make a fruit smoothie to help meet your nutrition needs. Other breakfast items you may consider include:
- Overnight Oats
- Kodiak® Pancakes with Scrambled Eggs and Fresh Fruit
- Toast with Nut Butter, Banana, and Honey
- Greek Yogurt and Fruit Parfait
- Breakfast Sandwich with Egg, 2% Cheese, and Ham
Often athletes travel to weekend tournaments, thus make sure to plan ahead to ensure you can get a good breakfast at the hotel or pack breakfast items to take with you. Items such as instant oatmeal, bagels, breakfast bars, nut butter, and fresh fruit are easy, quick breakfast items you can pack for the trip.
Pack Your Snacks
Don’t rely on concession stands to meet your sports nutrition needs, pack a cooler with snacks and drinks to keep you fueled all day long. Some easy snacks to throw into your cooler include:
- Fruit: Bananas, Oranges, Apple Slices, Grapes, Applesauce Squeeze Pouches, Dried Fruit
- Granola Bars, Breakfast Bars, Mini Bagels, Dry Cereal
- Protein: Jerky, Nut Butter, String Cheese
- Salty Snacks: Pretzels, Pita Chips, Chex™ Mix, Snack Crackers
- Trail Mix (see my Build A Better Trail Mix Nutrition Tip for ideas)
- Sports Drinks
- Bottled Water
Recover: Make Sports Nutrition a Priority Between Events
If you have limited time between events, make recovery nutrition a priority. Focus on refueling with carbohydrates and replacing fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat. When you are competing, carbohydrates provide the gas for your tank and give you the energy you need to perform at your best. As you exercise, you use up your carbohydrate stores, thus refilling your tank between events is important.
Grabbing a quick carbohydrate-rich snack between events, such as a granola bar, fruit, or bagel, can help ensure you start your next event with a full tank of energy. During practice, try out different types of snacks so you can determine which snack works best for you.
During activity, your body sweats in order to remove heat from your body. When you sweat, you lose both fluid and electrolytes. The main electrolyte lost in sweat is sodium. Therefore, when focusing on staying hydrated throughout the day, it is important to consume both fluid and sodium. Even minimal dehydration can impact strength, power, and speed, thus maintaining hydration is critical for optimal sports performance.
The best way to determine your individual hydration needs is to conduct a fluid assessment by monitoring your weight before and after exercise. Weight lost during activity reflects how much fluid you are losing in sweat. Based on this information, an individualized hydration plan can be created to help minimize dehydration. Consider visiting with a Sports Dietitian for assistance with determining your hydration needs.
Consuming a sports drink during and between events can help you with replacing both fluid and electrolytes. Sports drinks also contain carbohydrates, which can help provide additional energy to support your activity. Eating salty snacks between events, such as pretzels and pita chips, can also help with replacing the sodium lost in sweat.
If you are a swimmer, don’t neglect the importance of hydration. Even though you are in water, your body still sweats and you need to replace fluid and electrolyte losses. Since you are less likely to notice sweat losses in the pool, having an individualized hydration plan in place can be to your performance advantage.
Ready for Action with Sports Nutrition
Now that you have some ideas to help ensure that you are fueled for an all day event, you are ready to take action. Remember: start with breakfast, pack your snacks, recover between events, and stay hydrated.
For additional suggestions on ways to meet your performance nutrition needs visit with a Registered Dietitian who can work with you on developing a customized sports nutrition meal plan.