It has been my experience some of the less experienced athletes tend to make some cardinal nutrition sins that ultimately cause their sports performance to suffer.

Check them out below.

Competition Day Mistake #1 – Overeating on Competition Day

Some athletes believe that eating a lot before a game will give them an abundance of energy for optimal performance; however this is an ineffective way to fuel the body. Large feedings delay stomach emptying and therefore this feeding strategy will simply cause sensations of fullness, a diversion of blood flow from the muscles to the gut, and a feeling of discomfort during the game.

Competition Day Mistake #2 – Eating Novel or New Foods on Competition Day

Eating foods that are novel or that disturb the gastrointestinal tract causing gas, the urge to defecate, or stomach cramping will certainly screw things up.

Eating new healthy foods like BBQ Stingrays may sound inviting but stick with what you usually eat for better results. Save the experimentation for training in the off season!
Eating new healthy foods like BBQ Stingrays may sound inviting but stick with what you usually eat for better results. Save the experimentation for training in the off season!

Competition Day Mistake #3 – Trying to Carb Load on Competition Day

Athletes often screw things up by attempting to “carb load” prior to competition by having large carbohydrate meals within a few hours of competition. This is an unwise strategy for several reasons. First, carbohydrate loading only is effective during prolonged exercise (events lasting longer than 90 minutes).

Pre-Competition Day Mistake #4 – Eating Different Foods or Too Little Food Before Competition Day

A change in travel routine or competition location, pre-competition nerves & concerns and difficulty obtaining good nutrition can all lead to poor nutritional choices and under eating.

Pre-Competition Day Nutrition Problem #5 – The Big Pasta Dinner

As nutritional intake can be sub-optimal on the days leading up to competition, many athletes will try to make up for their inadequate intake with a big pasta or other carbohydrate dinner the night before competition. This is the athlete’s attempt at “carbohydrate loading.”

Big Pasta dinner

So, what do I do Before a Game or Training?

The athlete should have only 3 goals on competition day:

1.   Do What You Have Practiced

The athlete should practice and rehearse their competition day routine… Warming up at 12pm and competing at 2? The athlete should do a trial run, well before the competition day. They should wake up at the same time, eat the same foods and perform the same athletic feat.

2.   Supply Your Body With Energy For Competition

During competition days the athletes’ primary goal should be to ensure their nervous system is stimulated for performance and they have a constant supply of blood glucose, preventing them from crashing. Therefore competition feeding strategy is simple. Athletes’ should eat small, easily digested foods frequently throughout the day. Snacking is the best policy, making sure their snacks contain protein, fats and most importantly quality carbs.

Sweet Potato Chicken and Avocado Perfect Meal

3.   Don’t Eat Foods That Make You Uncomfortable

As many athletes are hyper-stimulated on competition day they may find it more difficult to tolerate large meals or slow digesting foods. It’s critically important that athletes eat foods that make them feel good, that don’t aggravate their stomach, and make them feel “light”.

Don’t eat foods that make you uncomfortable!
For more information check out my Nutritional Strategies for Ultimate Physical Performance Manual

All the best for your competition this weekend!

Joey Hayes

References:

Hayes, J. Nutrition Strategies for Ultimate Physical Performance 2010.

Betardi, J. Precision Nutrition.