As competition season for some is upon us, it's important to understand how to best fuel your body for practices and competitions. We're bringing this post back from our friend, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Lauren Papanos.
Competition is quickly upon us and as you are gearing up, so should your eating habits. Here’s a few tips to focus on this month to ensure you start the competition season on the best note. 💪🏻💜
Tip 1: Limit Empty Sugar Intake 🚫
Sugar is naturally found in many foods that you likely eat, including fruits and vegetables. These sugars are great for you, as long as you eat them in their natural form, with skin and as a whole fruit or vegetable. It is best to limit empty sugars like juices, sweet beverages, fruit snacks, syrup, etc. because their sugar content is added through syrups, rather than being naturally containing. If you are a fan of sweetened beverages like juice and sweet tea, try mixing them with their unsweetened counter-parts or even water to start. Another option is instead of completely removing these things from your diet, replace them with a healthier alternative like fruit infused water, dried fruit, or a berry compote. Making these small swaps will help you feel more energized and improve the nutritional composition of your diet.
Tip 2: Focus on How Much You are Hydrating 💦
In a previous post we talked about water and salt intake for optimal hydration. As competition season starts to ramp up, start focusing on how much you are consuming throughout the day, especially on days where you have school, practice, or work and your hydration habits may be suboptimal. Make it a habit to take a reusable water bottle with you every time you leave the house, go to a new class, or head to bed. An additional few ounces every couple of hours will add up over the course of the day.
Tip 3: Implement More Anti-Inflammatory Food Source
Anti-inflammatory foods are foods that contain compounds that can help reduce inflammation within your body. Inflammation can be caused by a high sugar and processed foods diet, heavy training, and other environmental factors. Eating a diet rich in these food sources can help combat these factors to help with expediting recovery from workouts, reducing joint pain, and optimizing muscle and weight balance. The best food sources include: fatty fish, egg yolks, walnuts, chia/flax seeds, berries, leafy greens, beets, and spices like turmeric and ginger.
Tip 4: Practice Pre-Competition Meals on Full Out Practice Days 🍎
I always recommend that athletes try out competition day meals before competition day. This will help you feel confident with how that meal will digest and make you feel, on a day when you want to be at your best. Try to keep the timing similar to when you know your meal will be on competition day. Consider that you may be at a hotel or eating out and that these food options may be less than ideal. For example, maybe for an early travel competition you bring oatmeal packets, natural peanut butter, and pick up a greek yogurt and fruit for a light breakfast 2-3 hours prior to competing. Now try this meal 2-3 hours before a full out practice and assess how you felt. If it seemed like too much or too little (you got hungry half way through practice), make adjustments and try it again on another practice day until you get it right! Focus here on a whole grain or starch, lean protein like eggs or dairy, and fruit.
We want to see how you are gearing up for competition season, tag us in your posts and use hashtag #CDFueling
- Lauren, 💜
If you have nutrition questions you want answered, follow the link HERE to submit your question!