The fact that good nutrition is tied to good performance in sports is well understood. Food gives us the energy that fuels our body. Like a car, if we use the best quality of fuel, we will run better and more efficiently. Here are some suggestions on how to prepare for the big game in the time leading up to the event, the night before, and the morning of. If you follow these suggestions, you can be sure you’ll be giving your body the support it needs to do it’s very best!
Eating well is something that all of us should be doing on a regular basis. Yes, there are days when we have more “treats” than we should, but in general, all of us, young and old should be aiming to have a relatively clean diet. Elements of a healthy diet include choosing whole, unprocessed natural foods more often, staying well hydrated and getting a good balance of healthy carbs, good fats and high-quality protein. The body is constantly rebuilding itself. Cells are breaking down and being replaced by new ones daily. The nutrients we take in are the building blocks for new cells, so eating well must happen on the regular.
Drinking lots of fluids should be priority in the days before the event. There are various studies that demonstrate the negative effect of poor hydration on sports performance. Ideally start hydrating a few days before the event, if that’s not possible, be sure to do it the day before. Drink extra water, making sure your urine is a very pale yellow colour by days end. Avoid drinking large amounts the evening before. You’ll wake up often to use the washroom, and this will affect the quality of your sleep. You need good sleep for optimal performance!
The day before your event, be sure to have plenty of complex carbohydrates for dinner. These will be fueling your muscles, and giving you the energy you need to go the distance. They are also more nutritious than simple carbohydrates. Complex carbs include whole grains, like brown rice, oats and rye. Fruits high in fiber, like apples, pears and berries. Beans, peas and lentils are also wonderful examples of complex carbohydrates. Sweet potatoes are a tasty source of energy as well. Simple carbs are things like white bread, refined cereals, candy, soda or anything made with a high amount of sugar. These will promptly cause a spike in your blood sugar, giving you a quick burst of energy, and then make you crash. When your blood sugar drops so quickly, you feel weak, tired and have difficulty focusing. Not something you want to do on the day of a serious sporting event.
Therefore, I suggest more complex carbs the morning of, things like oatmeal, whole wheat bread, steamed corn or pumpkin. These foods paired with eggs, avocado, yogurt or a handful of almonds will provide balanced blood sugar and a steady supply of energy. In general, you want to eat about 2 hours before the event, so you have time to digest. Again, continue to hydrate throughout the day and during your event. If you need a snack before you play, choose easily digestible foods like a granola bar and a piece of fruit. Jia you!
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Dr. Melissa Rodriguez is a naturopathic doctor and mother of two, who works at Beijing United Family Hospital. To find out more, check out her website at www.drmelissarodriguez.com.
This article appeared in beijingkids’ November 2017 issue.
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