There is always plenty of resources informing individuals of weight loss & muscle gain orientated nutrition but eating for performance always seems to get lost in the mix.
This blog post will entail a few techniques and recommendations of how to eat to fuel performance on game day for most sports but will focus primarily on crossfit. I will make reference to examples we utilised for "Zeke Woofs" recent bout at the Australian Crossfit Championships on the Gold Coast.
Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
Leading in to your competition you should have an understanding of how specific foods, amounts and macros effect your training as it is very important to ensure your game day nutrition protocol is utilising very similar food groups and not introducing any new foods on the day as this creates potential for bad negative reactions with those foods.
We don't always have control of internal factors such as stress and anxiety which can cause havoc on digestion so optimal control on what we are putting into our engine is key as potentially digestion, bloating issues can be narrowed down to being induced via stress and not food or hydration.
Throughout the day consume at minimum your regular water consumption and don't be afraid to drink more then usual.
Basic global rule for water consumption divide your weight in (kgs) and consume that amount in litres per day.
I like to increase the total amount of carbohydrates consumed the day prior to competition by simply keeping calories the same and bring down protein and fats slightly to increase total carbohydrate intake and increase glycogen storage
35% Protein / 40% Carbs / 25% Fat
30% Protein / 50% Carbs / 20% Fat
As much as protein is an important macro for improving athletic performance and muscle recovery when it comes to energy output for high intensity exercise carbohydrates are king and they will be priority for comp day performance.
The food groups for the day will stay very similar to everything that has been eaten in the week prior, no changes are needed to be made to food groups if you have felt good throughout the week.
Example Day of Eating
Eggs & Bacon
Tuna + Lettuce, Carrot, Cucumber, Betroot + Brown Rice + Sunflower Seeds
Whey Protein, Banana, Frozen Berries, Spinach, Oats, Natural Almond Butter, Chia Seeds.
Salmon, Asparagus, Brocolli, Carrot, White Rice,
Chicken Breast,Sweet Potato, Snap Peas, Baby Spinach, Cherry Tomatos, Hemp Seeds
Sodium intake is a rabbit hole that could go on forever in explanation although what is important to considering most active athletes will exceed the AI (average intake) and UL (upper limit) of recommended sodium intake for the mainstream.
I recommend using pink sea salt on all major meals to taste to ensure you are consuming adequate sodium, salt is not the enemy and your body is very efficient a excreting excess sodium so salting multiple meals to taste will not be a problem at all.
Ensuring your body has adequate sodium levels will ensure you can stay hydrated, reduce the chance of cramping and maintain mental focus and performance.
Water consumption should be monitored but consumed as needed, base your water intake on how you feel drink when you are thirsty although consuming an extra 200-400ml pre event and replacing any water weight lost post event is also very important.
Carbohydrates throughout the entire day are going to be your best friend.
Starting the day with a bigger meal combining protein fats & carbs this will be where you will consume majority of your fats for the day, fats slow down digestion and therefore slow down your bodies ability to produce muscle glycogen in which you will be using lots of to compete.
About 3 hours prior you will consume the last of your fats in a once again a mixed macro meal combining fats, carbs and protein again although something more of a snack size.
90 Minutes Out is now your time to consume some small-moderate sized snack consisting of purely high GI (fast absorbing) carbohydrates such as rice cakes, honey & a banana. High GI carbohydrates will produce a large insulin response which will cut out your bodies ability to access fat as a source of energy for a moderate period of time but seeing majority of crossfit events range from the 12-20 minute mark this is optimal as we want to be utilising glycogen as our primary source of fuel.
Caffeine is also a handy supplement to utilise pre event for a boost in energy & mental focus either via black coffee or a pre workout product such as Psychotic Gold, we recommend this in particular as it is a combination of primarily stimulants and minimal pump ingredients
Post Event is a make or break for your recovery when it comes to nutrition you want to ensure you are consume a mixture of protein & fast absorbing carbohydrates to optimise protein synthesis to aid in recovery & blunt cortisol to allow your body to transition back to a sympathetic state and to relax and recover.
Around .5-.6g/kg of carbohydrates in a close 30-60minute window post workout combined with 0.3-.4g/kg protein is a good reference to utilise but obviously can be changed for individual circumstanced.
Something like a combination of chicken & white rice would be a good combination for the Australian Crossfit Championship we utilised a product Cyborg Sport Reboot Post event as it is a perfect combination of easily digestible carbohydrates, collagen protein & ashwagandha to aid in lowering cortisol.
In between event nutrition will vary depending on the layout of the day although sticking to no or minimal fat sources if the comp day follows a very "crossfit" style of workouts for the day will be ideal snacking on foods such as fruit, granola, deli meats, tuna, rice, potato & oats.
In zekes circumstances we were utilising a combination of fresh fruit such as blueberries, bananas along with chobanis yoghurt & oats packs and turkey/chicken & white rice.
A handy tip would be to also minimise heavy fibrous foods in close proximity to events as they are heavy on digestion and can cause bloating especially in combination with comp day anxiety and nerves. Examples of these include fibrous greens like broccoli, asparagus & brown carbs like brown rice/bran.
It will be important to utilise sodium in the form of electrolytes and sea salt on food to support hydration, minimise cramping & maintain mental focus.
Sports drinks such as gatorade can fill a crucial gap in replenishing electrolytes and also providing a fast absorbing source of carbohydrates.
Example Game Day Nutrition Protocol.
Note: Keeping foods similar as mentioned previously.
Eggs & Bacon
3 Hours Prior to first event
Last source of fats until comp is finished
Tuna + Lettuce, Carrot, Cucumber, Betroot + Brown Rice + Sunflower Seeds + Avocado
90 Minutes Pre First Event / Each Event
Around .5-.6g/kg of carbohydrates in a close 30-60minute window post workout
1-2 Scoops Cyborg Reboot
Blueberries / Banana
Small Snacks or shorter breaks
chobani oats packet
Fresh Fruit / Dried Fruit
Carb Powders / Gatorade
Bigger In Between Event Meals
White Rice / Potato
Fresh Fruit / Dried Fruit
Low fibrous vegetables
Enjoy yourself don't force yourself into a food coma as your body will be under a lot of stress and fatigue from the comp day so alcohol will hit hard (ask zeke lol) and large amounts of food can possibly cause digestive troubles and bloating so don't force feed.
Enjoy the foods you love in moderation