It’s Sunday avo and I have dragged myself off the couch (after I left the gym this morning it has been one LAZY DAY in my house) to try and write a few words for you guys. Before I get started, I wanted to give a couple of special shout-outs. First off to Lauren who ‘took over’ the Boxing programming for all of last week and did a great job of keeping everyone moving, sweating and – most of all – improving. It was the first time since opening the gym that I haven’t directly programmed the boxing sessions during the week – and it was a nice break, let me tell you. The other trainers are all going to take their turns over the next 5-6 weeks or so. Secondly, a very (very) happy shout out to Eden and Harriet who were married down in Margaret River yesterday. I think Eden (and Harry) know that all of us at R1 still miss him and that we are all so happy for them on their big day…
Today I am going to write a little bit about ‘Food for Sport’ – which is a little bit different to ‘Food for Life’. With all of the winter sports about to start, I have had a few people asking me recently what they should be feeding their kids BEFORE the ‘big game’ each weekend – after all, a 90-minute game of football/netball/rugby/hockey is a much different proposition to a game of cricket/baseball/softball or little athletics – more traditional summer pursuits when the participants are kind of on-and-off the field of play pretty regularly.
The first thing I want to say is that sports nutrition is not ‘weight-loss’ nutrition (if that is even a ‘phrase’ that should be written). It is about eating in a way that will maximise PERFORMANCE rather than eating in a way that enables you to fuel adequately for a ‘working day’/’school day’ when out-and-out performance is NOT the goal. I am not sure any of that makes total sense because of course you want to be performing well at work/school etc…but I guess when you are talking sports performance it is about being fuelled to perform at your ABSOLUTE MAX for a defined period of time. That doesn’t mean eating maximally (big bowls of pasta or heavy carb dosing) or even caffeinating up before their game. It just means balancing macronutrients to make sure they don’t run out of energy in the second period; giving them food they like; and avoiding sugar on game day.
Focus on Carbs for ENERGY. Choose whole-grain bread, crackers, cereal, pasta and potatoes for lasting energy. Use water BEFORE the event for hydration – save those sports drinks for an energy boost at half time/during the 2nd half of the game.
SPREAD OUT your Protein.
The athletes are going to need protein to support build and repair hardworking muscles. Just like on ‘non-comptetion days’, you want to be eating protein throughout the day – ideally having some at each meal. If they need a ‘snack’ an hour before a game, a boiled egg to go along with their banana is a good plan.
Have a plan with your FAT intake.
They 100% need some fats in their diet on game day – but eating a bucket of chips before the game is not a good plan. Fats can slow digestion which is not what you want when you are getting ready to compete. Add some avocado to their eggs in the morning, eat a few almonds with that pre-game banana…
‘PRACTICE’ with your ‘pre-game’ meal
At the gym, some people tell me they can’t train on an empty stomach – others say they feel like throwing up if they eat before they train. Food can be very personal. Don’t make the ‘first time’ you try the amazing new blueberry pancake recipe on your kids the day of the ‘big game’. A pre-game meal is an important part of their preparation to play – if you are eating something for the first time on the day of competition, you are at risk of feeling nauseous, dehydrated – or in the worst case scenario – having symptoms of diarrhea.
Hydration starts when they WAKE UP
Good hydration should begin early in the day – preferably as soon as they wake up having a drink of water is a great plan.before kids even set foot on the playing field. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the day leading up to a game, especially in the two to three hours before game time. Obviously if possible
Continue to drink during the game (about 1/2 cup every 15 minutes) and afterward to rehydrate after sweat loss. Water should still be kids’ go-to drink for exercise that’s under 60 minutes. Training sessions over an hour may require a sports drink to replace electrolytes lost through heavy sweating.
Timing is everything.
This is kind of like my ‘PRACTICE’ your pre-game meal comment – because when you are playing sport feeling good is more important than making sure your nutrition is ‘nailed’. You are going to need 2-3 hours to digest a regular meal – so maybe 2-3 smaller, snack size meals will work better throughout the morning than one ‘normal’ meal. One thing is for sure not eating is a really (really) bad plan – the number of kids I here saying “I didn’t eat anything” before a game (generally ‘cos Dad/Mum didn’t used to eat before a game when they were younger) never fails to surprise me…practice your quantities, your meal timing AND what you eat.
Milk is a really good ‘SUPPLEMENT’ on game days
Yes – you have to drink water. But MILK is another good way to get in fluids – as well as adding some fats and protein – not to mention calcium and potassium – on ‘Game Day’. Don’t be scared of pouring milk liberally on the porridge you have made for breakfast/or in a glass alongside the pancakes/eggs you have served up.
I know this stuff is really boring, but eating well on ‘Game Day’ is a key part of performing well – no matter what the sport.
What about ‘carb loading’ and pasta the night before? Yeah, well, I’m not so sure about that. Just your usual, healthy, balanced meal will work – make sure you have a heap of fresh veggies together with some protein and healthy fats and you will be good to go. Of course, if your child thinks they play well because they eat mum’s spaghetti the night before the game, well, THEY DO! So don’t mess with that. But they don’t need it physically!
Good luck to everyone for the season(s) ahead!
See you in the gym,
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