If you are a professional player you would know the importance of eating right and eating wise every single day of your life. But, what you eat and the time at which you eat, becomes extremely crucial especially on the day of a big sporting event. So, while as amateurs all of us may have taken our bodies for granted and may be played half an hour extra on an empty stomach groveling for food ormay have gone for a run after consuming an energy dense snack, a good nutritionist would tell you that this sort of abuse can be easily termed as ‘sports sacrilege.’
Not supplementing your body with the right nutriment before or during an intense activity, is the single most way to negatively affect your performance. The odd become even more acute if you are playing to compete.
So, whether you are a pro athlete or an aspiring sportsperson there are certain rudimentary rules to follow when it comes to your nutrition and diet on a game day. Here’s your go-to preliminary guide to what to eat before you roughit-out on a field.
Experiment,another day: The single-most rule that should be written in stone for a player out to perform is to never ever shock your body with foods you are not familiar with. A pre-event meal should always comprise of tried and tested ingredients. Also, it’s equally important to feed your body before it goes into exhaustion phase is to prevent any instance of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Ensure that you have a carbohydrate rich diet so that low blood sugar symptom such as dizziness, nausea or fatigue does not grip you when you are at the top of your game.
Time it right: Keep in mind some basic principles of how digestion works in your body. A large, fulfilling meal is digested by your body in at least 3-4 hours, a rich snack takes 2-3 hours while a smoothie or yoghurt based drink may take about an hour to be digested. Time you meals before the event accordingly. Anything that goes in your body about an hour before the activity has to be low in fat and high in carbohydrates. High fat proteins such as cheese and butter not only take longer to break down but they also slow down your body. A low-fat protein is your best bet but combine it with a carb rich snack. Especially if you are going to be participating in high-energy power based performance you must be careful to include enough carbohydrates because the more intense the activity the more rapidly your body will use up stored muscle glycogens.
During the performance: While foods such as whole-grain bread, multigrain crackers or cereals are ideal to consume a few hours before the game, it’s also important to stay nourished during the activity. If the game allows, packing an energy drink in between and supplementing your body with water every 15 minutes to half-an hour is deriguer to stay hydrated. The water intake should continue after the game to make up for the minerals lost during sweating while playing.
Pay attention to ingredients: A smart athlete is also an intelligent consumer; therefore pay attention to the labelled glycemic index in the food items you consume. A glycemic index is a measure to tell you how fast and how much a food item will cause your blood sugar to rise. High glycemic index foods that lead to slow increase of blood sugar are your best friends during or after heavy activity while low to moderate index food such as energy bars, wok tossed beans, apples etc are best had before the game. Also if you are not already doing it have sufficient water during all times before or after the game.
The writer is the Founder and hief Dietitian at Nmami Life, India's fastest growing health and wellness brand. She advocates personalised nutrition and is a trusted counsellor for many celebrities and sportspersons.
Get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on social media @NmamiLife