Exercise For A Pregnant Woman

Competition Diet

The importance of developing a nutrition strategy for competition can often be an underappreciated component of the athlete’s diet. Of course, the day-to-day nutrition practices are key to helping an individual train hard and develop as an athlete. But the months, and even years, of commitment to sport and training mean very little to performance goals if nutrition practices impede an athlete from reaching one’s athletic potential at competition. A marathon runner who “bonks” at mile 20 because of improper nutrition planning, or a bobsled athlete who loses focus on their second competition run because of poor carbohydrate intake and timing show how crucial dietary strategies are to peak performance. Every athlete looking to compete in their respective field, whether it be the recreational cyclist looking to complete their first century ride for fun, or the elite taekwondo athlete competing in World Championships, should have a nutrition plan for competition.

Ensuring Adequate Nutrient Availability

Preparation for race day should not only take place on the day itself, but can begin up to a week before the event (or sometimes longer) and should be planned out even further in advance. Additionally, training is typically adapted to prevent excessive fatigue such as through a tapering regimen. Nutritional strategies are also essential for preventing fatigue. Glycogen depletion and dehydration are two potential causes of fatigue and are preventable through intentional practices.

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Knowing that carbohydrate is a primary fuel source for exercise, athletes want to ensure their “gas tanks” or glycogen stores are full. Starting an event with low glycogen stores can result in early fatigue and can become a limiting factor in performance. For events lasting up to 90 minutes, normal glycogen stores are sufficient, though for events lasting longer, carbohydrate loading may be recommended (see section on “Carbohydrate Loading”). Glycogen stores can be normalized (assuming they were depleted from training) within a 24- to 36-hour period with high carbohydrate intake (7 to 10 g/kg/d) and no additional exercise (Burke et al. 2011). While a section in Chapter 4 “carbohydrate recommendations before sport” recommends 1 to 4 g/kg of body weight in the 1 to 4 hours before the event, even the day preceding the event should be used to ensure adequate glycogen content. These meals should be rich in complex carbohydrates balanced with moderate protein and healthy fats. Meals should be lower-residue foods, which include the avoidance of excess dietary fiber and other substances that may cause gastrointestinal distress such as spicy and high fat meals. Maintaining no to low activity will also support glycogen repletion.

It seems athletes are aware of the importance of carbohydrate-rich meals the night before an event as exemplified in the proverbial “pasta dinner” consumed by many athletes. When educating athletes, it is helpful to discuss all the different sources of carbohydrates, including fruits, starchy vegetables, milk, yogurt, and all types of grains. There is nothing magical about pasta. If athletes prefer pasta than that can be a convenient option, though a high carbohydrate meal can be prepared that focuses on other types of food. Whichever sources of carbohydrates the athlete includes, these foods should be familiar and well tolerated. Table 6.2 provides a sample of a carbohydrate-rich meal consumed the night before the event for a 55-kg female distance runner that provides roughly 4 g/kg.

Hydration practices also have an impact on race day performance. Dehydration results in feelings of fatigue among other risks depending upon the degree of dehydration. Specific hydration strategies before

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