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 fulfill 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
Decreased fat, avoid fried foods
|-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. Milk-2-Go.
|2 – 3 hours||SMALLER MEAL:High carbohydrate
|-Turkey sandwich, 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
|-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
|-Cereal based trail mix and water/juice
-Jam/honey sandwich and water
-Piece of fruit
|< 30 minutes||MINI SNACK:High Carbohydrate
|-Sport drink (can be home made…1/2 fruit juice, ½ water, pinch of salt)
-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 Home||At the Deli/Gas Station||Fast Food/Canteen|
|Meals:Pasta with low-fat tomato sauce
Water/low fat milk/juice
Pancakes with yogurt & berries, ham, and juice
|Lean meat sandwich, veggies, low fat dressing/cheese
Minestrone soup, crackers, yogurt with fruit salad, and juice
|Grilled chicken sandwich, sauce on the side
Apple slices/yogurt parfait
Bagel with peanut butter and jam
|Snacks:Nut with cocoa spread and banana wrap
Smoothie with low fat muffin
Homemade sports drink (1/2 juice, ½ water, pinch of salt)
|Raisins & pretzels
Fruit bars, low fat cereal bars
Crackers & cheese strings
Oatmeal cookies & low fat milk
Trail mix & cereal
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.
Teams that plan together will perform better!