I often get a ton of questions about how to eat for a competition the day before and the day of. The good news is you don’t have to make an crazy changes or starve yourself the day before. You are going to be doing multiple workouts in a day and for some people, this is a lot more volume than normal. For others, it may be slightly more or less than a typical day of training. The main goal is to be properly fueled and hydrated and not be digesting food in the middle of your strenuous workouts. If your body is digesting a ton of food, it’s not focusing all of it’s energy on the workout! Here are some tips and guidelines that have worked for me & I always follow:
I suggest eating like you do on a normal training day BUT save most of your carbs, about 70%, for your evening meals such as dinner and before bed. Most people think they should “carb load” and stuff their face with carbs like pasta or pizza. Don’t bump up your carbs the day before because typically you are resting or doing light technique work so your energy stores should be pretty full. I know I have “rest day macros” and “training day macros” that changes the amount of carbs I am eating. I eat like it’s a training day the day before but as I said above, I save a majority of my carbs for my evening meals. Dramatically increasing your carbs can cause you to feel bloated or heavy the following day during your competition and that’s a NO.
A typical dinner for me the night before would be something like the following:
2-3 oz chicken, 100g roasted broccoli or brussels, 200g roasted sweet potatoes, & 1 tbs of almond butter.
I also always make sure to have my final meal of the day after dinner:
1 serving Just Be Natural Cinnamon Rice Pudding Casein Protein, 1 tbs peanut butter, and I add some carbs such as 1 slice of ezekial bread topped with the peanut butter & a sliced banana.
Make sure to get up early enough to prepare yourself a hearty breakfast! If you have to leave super early and can’t stomach something yet, prepare it the night before or the morning of and bring it in the car to eat closer to the competition. I highly suggest eating a normal meal before hand and save the “snack” type foods for between workouts. If my first event is at 9AM, I usually eat my breakfast somewhere between 6:30-7:30AM. For my competition this past weekend, it was an hour drive so I packed my breakfast and ate it once I got there (I had two hours once I got there before my first event). If my breakfast is 2 or more hours in advance, I will typically eat half a banana about 30 minutes before the first workout to get some extra carbs in and bump my energy up!
Typical breakfast for me:
3 egg whites with a handful of spinach, 1 packet of Natures Promise maple oatmeal, 1 sliced banana, & 1 tbs almond butter. Oh & coffee of course for those early mornings!
Stick to fast digesting food. Think more carbs and less fat in between events. Fat is going to slow down digestion and we don’t want to still be digesting food while we are trying to perform at our best while competing.
Don’t count on the event to have food vendors… a lot don’t so pack your own food in a cooler or lunch bag!
After each event, let your body calm down before trying to force something down while you’re still recovering. After feeling fully recovered, grab a carb/protein based snack. The size or amount varies depending on time between events. If you only have a short amount of time, try something quick like half a banana or a handful of cereal.
Carb/protein options I suggest:
Bars (RX bar, Quest bar, etc.), trail mix, granola, fruit (banana or apple is my go to), Fuel For Fire packets (easy to digest and is simply pureed fruit/veggies with whey protein), beef jerky/meat sticks, rice cakes, protein powder (I pack JBN Candy Bar Blitz Growtein), Lenny & Larrys cookie, gatorade, applesauce or fruit squeeze packs, sweet potatoes, etc.
Once the event is over, I suggest to have a recovery protein shake & some carbs to hold you over until your next full meal. I usually will have my JBN protein shake & an apple or something similar. Then, I will enjoy a hearty post-comp meal! Depending on the day, my go-to is a burger and sweet potato fries. Don’t stress too much over tracking and weighing this meal. Enjoy a good meal and then move on. This also isn’t an excuse to devour everything in sight and have a huge “cheat meal.” Make good choices still but enjoy!
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
-STAY HYDRATED. Make sure you are drinking enough water in the days leading up, the day before, the morning of, and throughout your competition! Even slight dehydration can alter your performance.
-NEVER introduce something NEW into your diet on competition day. You do not know how you'll respond. The last thing you want is to have an upset stomach while competing. Try to stick to your normal diet the day before & eat a normal breakfast. Pack snacks you know sit well with you.
-People tend to UNDER eat on competition days. I know, strange, right? But it’s true. So try planning the entire day out ahead of time. Plan your breakfast, snacks, shakes, intra workout foods, and plan for a big post comp meal. Try adding some drinkable carbs or drinkable protein shakes instead of full on meals/snacks. But don’t forget to EAT. You won’t perform at your full potential without the proper nutrition because as I always say, FOOD IS FUEL.
Hope this helps answer some questions & good luck competing!
I am passionate about creating a healthy lifestyle for myself & helping those around me.