I’m guessing you focus on your every day diet, but do you put any emphasis on your pre-performance meal? A pre-performance meal should be eaten 3-4 hours before the activity or competition and is important because it is what should provide you with enough carbohydrate to give you energy as well as assist in providing optimal hydration without interfering with your abilities.
What It Should Include
When you have a competition scheduled in the morning so you’ve gone without food during the night, the effect on the liver glycogen becomes important. You see, liver glycogen is the primary source of carbohydrate within your body to maintain proper blood glucose level. When it’s low, your body has less of an energy supply to work with and your performance will deteriorate. Traditionally, the pregame meal was passed on from coach to coach; steak, scrambled eggs, green beans, toast, honey, and tea. Now if you’re still using this as your pregame meal, it might be time to change it up a bit because this isn’t a wise choice. In fact, this meal will still be in your stomach after the competition and will act as extra weight or discomfort without actually being a benefit to you. Here are some tips of what to include in your pre-competition meal:
- 50-100 grams of easily digestible, high carbohydrate foods.
- Low in fat and protein; only enough to offset hunger pains. A meal high in protein takes more oxygen to digest which will impede your performance.
- Liquid pregame meals shouldn’t cause nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and won’t affect your stamina.
- Orange juice, milk, or tea with sugar
- Pancakes with minimal butter and syrup
- Dry toast
Pregame Meal Is More Mental Than Physical
Although there are some foods that will sit better in your stomach, there are studies that show no significant difference in the effect the food had on performance. However, they did find that the pregame meal may be more psychological than physiological. Because athletes tend to be more superstitious, the pregame meal can play a huge role in their performance. So, just make sure that your pregame meal doesn’t make you uncomfortable or take a long time to digest. If you focus on maximizing your glycogen stores during the days preceding the event, you should have enough energy come competition time.
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