Over the years athletes that I have had the pleasure and blessing to coach have often asked about “game day” nutrition. It usually consists of questions like – “what should I eat for breakfast”, “what should I eat between events”, and always “is this a good bar (or goo packet or other “food on the go”)”.
And here is what I tell them, not because I am a Dr. or even a nutritionist but because I have used myself as a “guinea pig” over the years and I fancy myself as a human performance “hack”! I love reading about HP – it’s always intrigued me…
There is no one perfect answer on what an athlete should eat for breakfast, between events, the night before, etc. Unfortunately in a world where we have all grown to be impatient – patience (and trial and error) is what we need. It is imperative to try certain foods (and keep a journal). Write down what you ate, how it made you feel, did it provide energy, did it digest, etc. This ritual should take place for practice days (best days to try things), meet days, off season, and so on. It does not have to go on forever because if you are in tune with your body you will soon start to understand what works and what does not. Again, there is no hard rule on journaling and trial/error. Everyone gets to their own understanding at different intervals of time.
Beyond that – there is the topic of what I will call “food bars” and anything that is “energy/calories” that are in a convenient package. Although all these items have come a long way in terms of quality and convenience, I still feel that “real, whole, food” is always the best way to go. Sure there may be times when a bar or gel pack may be good in a pinch but the more whole food you eat, the better. But what about the convenience you may ask…well here is where a book that I came across while attending a seminar on human performance a few years back comes in handy.
The book is Feed Zone Portables – I found it to be a great book. Sure the athletes who wrote it and are quoted in it are doing longer events than any of you/us but again through trial and error in terms of portions and I think this will help all of you be ready for whatever your training and or competing may throw at you.
Let me know if you have any questions. And remember, I am NOT a Dr. and I am NOT a nutritionist, so as with all “helpful hints” be sure to discuss this with your parents (and your doctor should you have any medical conditions surrounding nutrition or other).