What to Eat Before a Sports Competition
By Nina Syahira
May 8, 2015
Having a consistently healthy diet every day is a great accompaniment to regular exercise. Knowing what to eat and what to avoid can easily help to solve many fitness issues you may encounter. So, what constitutes a fair meal to ensure you perform well?
1. Go high complex carbs
That’s right! Not all carbs are bad. It is important to know which will benefit you more when you’re competing. There are 2 types of carbohydrates; complex and simple.
Simple carbs like fruits and dairy are made up of 1-2 sugar molecules and are the quickest source of energy, thus can make you feel tired faster.
Complex carbs, especially starchy foods, are what your body needs as energy for sports because they are broken down and stored in muscles and liver as glycogen. Having a sufficient amount of glycogen stored in your body ensures a smooth performance during the competition.
Examples of starchy carbs: Brown rice & pasta, whole grains, oatmeal, corn, nuts, seeds, legumes, baked & sweet potatoes (with skin).
Examples of fibrous carbs: Mushrooms, eggplants (brinjals), capsicums and most dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, lettuce and kale.
2. Maintain your body’s balance of water and sodium
Did you know that your body needs a good balance of water and sodium in order to function properly? If you drink too much water without checking your body’s sodium level, you might just crash and burn due to hyponatremia (low sodium concentration in the blood). But if you don’t drink enough, you would be dehydrated.
Plain water alone doesn’t provide you with sodium like sports drinks do. Besides carbohydrates, sports drinks also contain electrolytes which are basically the salts (sodium) and minerals that control body fluid balance. In addition to that, electrolytes aid in energy generation too.
That doesn’t mean you can substitute sports drinks with salty foods to keep up the balance! They may contain too much salt, which is bad for you as it can lead to many health risks like stroke, stomach cancer and heart disease.
Instead, opt for low-sodium foods to include in your diet. Natural occurring low levels of sodium are enough for your body when preparing for a sports competition.
Examples of low-sodium foods: Grilled chicken breast, fish, carrots, celery, avocados, eggs and bananas.
For a quick look at what to eat before your next sports competition, check out the infographic below!
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