Nutrition - Pre, During and Post Performance - By Emilie
• Nutrition plays a critical role in
athletic performance, particularly
endurance performance. The
human body operates best when it
is able to draw on a continuous
supply of quality fuel. This supply
depends on a balanced diet ,
supported by sufficient fluid
intake to ensure cells are able to
•To have sufficient energy, the athlete needs to consume an adequate amount of fuel prior to the
event. If they consume to little food , they will run out of fuel and feel lethargic and weak.
•The following guidelines are suggested for eating before an event:
•Food should be consumed three and four hours before a competition in the case of a large meal,
and on to two hours before in the case of a snack.
•Intake should basically consist of complex carbohydrates, as these provide a sustained source of
•This is important for an athletic preparation, when a typical day will include periods of rest,
moderate activity and intense activity.
•For an athlete more than 70% of carbohydrate intake should be derived from complex sources,
which are carbohydrate found in grains, fruits and vegetables.
• Avoid foods high in fat and protein, as these take longer to digest. For
example fatty meats, french fries, cheeseburgers.
• Maintain adequate fluid levels in extended events, such as marathons,
continuous replacement is necessary.
• Liquid meals (drink with a high carbohydrate content) are recommended if
solid meals are difficult to digest. Correctly prepare, they can be an
adequate source of nutrition and energy, and contribute significantly to
• It is important to realise that patterns for pre-game eating need to be
established over a period of time and new foods should not be added to a
diet without a trial period.
• Some examples of high carbohydrate Pre-exercise meals include:
• Breakfasts: oatmeal or whole grain cold cereal, skim milk or soy milk, fruits like
bananas or berries, fruit juices, yoghurts and pancakes.
• Lunch: turkey, tuna, peanut butter sandwich, whole wheat pasta salad, fruit,
yoghurt and fruit juices.
• Dinners: Baked chicken, fish, potato, pasta, rice and vegetables.
• Snacks: Energy bars, fruits, cereals, yoghurt and fruit.
• Endurance events, particularly in the hot and possibly humid conditions,
can have a significant impact on the body’s fuel and fluid supplies.
• The aim is to conserve muscle glycogen and maintain blood glucose
• Carbohydrate supplementation is needed to avoid glycogen depletion. At
exercise intensities above 75% of aerobic capacity, liquid carbohydrate
feeding (sports drinks) can delay glycogen depletion by up to 30minutes.
• Glycogen supplementation is not needed for low-intensity/short duration
• Adequate hydration by regular fluid intake must be maintained.
• Depending on the sport, some individuals also snack during a break. For
example snacking during an event would not be suitable for a marathon
runner, compared to Rugby league where an athlete may choose to snack
on something simple such as a banana. In some sports is often difficult to
eat foods, so these sports may tend to opt for the alternative of sports
drinks or liquad meals.
• The most important nutritional factor during competition is fluid intake.
Dehydration is a concern during any physical activity. Athletes should aim
to drink regularly rather than wait until they become thirsty. As a guideline
athletes should aim to drink 150-250mls every 15minutes.
In an event less than
•Hydrate well before an
•Fluid taken during the
event will not benefit
performance as it does not
become available to the
body within 30mins.
•Fluid taken during the
event will alleviate a dry
mouth and improve
In events of 30-60minutes
•Begin the event well hydrated.
•As a general rule: replace
fluid every 15mins by drinking
150-250mls of water.
•A supplementary source of
carbohydrate during exercise
has been shown to improve
performance in events as
short as 60mins.
In endurance sports:
•Begin the event well
•Replace fluid regularly.
•Consume 30-60g of
carbohydrate per hour of
•Avoid carbohydrates that
delay the stomach
emptying (e.g. foods that
are high in fat or fibre) or
• Post performance nutrition is concerned with the restoration of muscle and
liver glycogen stores and the replacement of the fluid and electrolytes that
were lost in sweat.
• A recovery nutritional plan must aim to:
• Replace glycogen stores by eating foods with a high carbohydrate content.
• Rehydrate to replace fluid lost during the event. (water or carbohydrate
solutions of 5-8 % are recommended as the best choice fluid)
• Avoid alcohol because it contributes to dehydration.
Restoration of muscle glycogen stores is enhanced by 3 factors;
• The more the glycogen store was depleted, the faster the rate of recovery.
• By eating carbohydrates immediately/shortly after exercise.
• By ingesting adequate amounts of carbohydrates. Nutritionists recommend
1-1.5 carbohydrate per kilogram of body mass immediately after exercise;
the 7-10g carbohydrate per kilogram of body mass in the 24hours after
• Carbohydrate foods with a high glycaemic index should be eaten.
• Some examples of snacks and recovery foods include:
• Yoghurt with fresh fruits
• Fruit smoothie
• Chicken roll
• Pasta salad
• Rice crackers with peanut butter spread
• Fruit juice
• Whole fruits, vegetables and juices are good examples as they and
carbohydrate rich and potassium rich.
• All these examples are high in carbohydrate which is critical in the
restoration of glycogen stores,