by Aimee Wojtowecz
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts understand that nutrition plays a crucial role in optimizing performance. Properly fueling your body before, during and after an event can make a significant difference in your energy levels, endurance, and overall performance. We have a week and a half until our yearly gym undertaking of the famous CrossFit workout “Murph”. If you haven’t been working on your nutrition leading up to Murph, IT’S NOT TOO LATE! Let’s explore performance nutrition, delve into strategies for eating one week before the event, and provide guidelines for fueling on the day of the event. Oh and these strategies are not specific to just Murph, they could be applied to any extra challenging workout, event or competition you have coming up.
Performance nutrition refers to the strategic intake of nutrients to support athletic performance, enhance recovery, and promote overall well-being. It involves consuming the right balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to optimize energy production, muscle function, and mental focus.
The Week Before
The week leading up to an event is a critical period for preparing your body for peak performance. Here are some key strategies to follow during this period:
-Maintain a Balanced Diet: Focus on consuming a well-rounded diet consisting of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Avoid excessive consumption of processed foods, sugary snacks, and alcohol.
-Increase Carbohydrate Intake: Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for endurance activities. Gradually increase your carbohydrate intake throughout the week by incorporating foods such as whole grain pasta, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and fruits.
-Stay Hydrated: Adequate hydration is essential for optimal performance. Drink water consistently throughout the day and monitor your urine color to ensure it remains pale yellow.
-Monitor Portion Sizes: Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating or undereating. Listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues and aim for a moderate calorie intake to maintain energy levels without feeling sluggish.
-Refuel After Workouts: Consume a post-workout meal or snack that includes a combination of carbohydrates and proteins to replenish glycogen stores and promote muscle recovery.
The Day Of
The day of the event is crucial for fueling your body to perform at its best. Try out these tips to optimize your nutrition:
-Eat a Balanced Breakfast: Consume a balanced meal that includes carbohydrates for energy, proteins for muscle support, and a small amount of healthy fats. Opt for foods such as oatmeal with berries and a side of Greek yogurt or whole-grain toast with scrambled eggs and avocado. Aim to eat about 2 hours before your event.
-Snack Smartly: If your event is scheduled for later in the day, have a small, carbohydrate-rich snack 1-2 hours before the start time. Bananas, energy bars, or a handful of nuts and dried fruits are excellent choices.
-Stay Hydrated: Begin the day by drinking plenty of water and continue to hydrate throughout the event. If the event lasts longer than an hour, consider including a sports drink or electrolyte-replacement beverage to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat.
If the event lasts approximately an hour (like Murph will for many of us), hydration is typically more critical than fueling. Sip on water or a sports drink as needed, but avoid consuming large amounts of food to prevent gastrointestinal discomfort. If your event will be over an hour, than you want to consider fueling strategies to get you through. Something rich in carbohydrates (simple sugars) taken about every 30 minutes is a good place to start.
After the event, prioritize recovery nutrition. Consume a post-event meal or snack that includes carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores and proteins to support muscle repair. Examples include a protein shake with a banana or a chicken and vegetable stir-fry with brown rice. Make sure to have a water or recovery drink BEFORE that first beer afterwards. Thank me later.
Eating for performance is not just a matter of meeting immediate athletic needs; it is a comprehensive approach that encompasses energy, endurance, recovery, mental focus, injury prevention, body composition, and long-term health. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a fitness enthusiast, fueling your body with the right nutrients can make a significant difference in not only your performance that day but also in how you feel after your event and how your body grows and adapts going forward.