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Does it really matter what you eat before practice or competition?
Let me tell you a little story.
I participated on the cross country team in high school. I would sometimes get terrible intestinal cramps during practice or right in the middle of my 5k race. They hurt so bad that I would have to stop and walk until they went away – and because of that, I was unable to practice or compete at my highest potential. My coach and I had no idea why I was getting these cramps, so I suffered through them.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I know exactly what caused those painful cramps – the Big Mac or Taco Supreme that I had for lunch that day!
The low carbohydrate, high fat content of my fast food lunches took a long time to digest. During an afternoon practice or race, my working muscles had priority over my intestines for blood flow and oxygen – leaving my Big Mac undigested. I was not lovin’ it!
Let’s start with dinner the night before an afternoon game, match, or race.
These meals and snacks are low in fat to help prevent intestinal discomfort during training and competition, but remember that fat is a great source of energy for growing athletes. A more moderate amount of fat can be incorporated into other meals when quick digestion is not an issue.
Learn more about sports nutrition.
Written by: Laura Watne, MS, RD, Clinical Nutrition, Children’s Hospital Colorado.