Eating and drinking during competition?
Although the half-time break is brief, it is the only opportunity for nutrition during play. Players with a high workload (e.g. midfielders) will benefit most from consuming a carbohydrate snack during the break as they tend to have greatest requirements for carbohydrate and fluid during the game. Chopped fruit or muesli bars can be quick, easy to eat options. Players should also sip on water at half time to help prevent dehydration. Sports drink may also be useful as it provides both fluid and carbohydrate.
Recovery is particularly important if there is more than one training session in a day or matches are less than 1-2 days apart. It is important to replenish fuel stores with carbohydrate-rich foods after training and games as well as include lean protein to help muscle tissue repair and growth.
Eating before competition
The main pre-game meal should be eaten 2-4 hours prior to the start of a match. It should be carbohydrate based and to avoid stomach discomfort, foods low in fibre and fat may be preferred. Options may include pasta with tomato based sauce, sandwich with light fillings, rice based dish. A light, carbohydrate snack (e.g. fruit, yoghurt, cereal bar, toast (with spread) in the 1-2 hours leading up to a match can help provide a final “top up” of fuel stores.
In the immediate post exercise period, athletes are encourages to consume a carbohydrate rich meal that provides at least 1g carbohydrates per kg body weight within the first hour of finishing a training session or competition. This is important, as during this time rates of glycogen synthesis are greatest. This is of particular importance if the next training session is within 8 hours. If the training session is close to the next snack or meal time this would be part of the recovery process. The type of food chosen would take into consideration the individual athlete’s daily carbohydrate and energy requirements, gastric comfort and food availability.