A well-prepared athlete from the start of a training camp puts the odds on his side to maximize his level of performance. In the previous article, it was possible to note the importance for a hockey player to properly fill his muscle and liver glycogen stores before the first day of training. In this second article, it will be more about planning meals and snacks for the entire training camp or during a tournament. This allows athletes to consume foods they usually consume to limit digestive discomfort and always have the energy sources they need in a timely manner.
Preparing for a training camp or a tournament is not just about eating in the days before the event as explained in a previous article, but also about planning meals and snacks that will be consumed before during and after each physical effort during the event.
Dietary intake planning maximizes the level of performance while promoting digestive comfort (1). Making sure that you have foods that you consume regularly (well tolerated during your usual workout) in sufficient quantities and ingested at the right time maximizes and maintains the energy level throughout the sports event.
Here’s what good dietary planning can do for the athlete (2, 3, 4):
Before an effort
Provide the necessary energy to fill the body’s energy reserves (glycogen in the muscles and liver)
Ensure an adequate level of hydration
Ensure a feeling of satiety during the effort (do not feel hunger)
During an effort
Provide the energy and hydration necessary to maintain the level of performance
Maintain adequate blood glucose (blood sugar)
Avoid feeling hungry
After an effort
Replace fluids and electrolytes lost during exercise Effort
muscle and liver glycogen stores to ensure maximum performance in the next effort
Repair exercise- induced muscle microdissections
When the place and time of the competition or camp are known, it is possible to ask several questions about the food available. It can also help to overcome the unforeseen events that may occur during this period:
- What is the menu of the cafeteria?
- Are there vending machines?
- What snacks are offered on site?
- What sports drinks are offered?
- Is there space available to keep food cool?
- What restaurants are nearby?
- What are the eating habits of the family that hosts the athlete?
Poor planning or omission can have immediate and long-term negative impacts on athletic performance (1). For example, if there is only an hour between two games and the player has nothing to put in the tooth (solid or liquid), he will start the second effort with reduced energy reserves. It is more difficult to fill up the reserves again with the following meals or snacks, especially if there are other physical efforts planned for the day or the next day.
Where to start ?
The content of meals and snacks depends on the time available for digestion before physical exertion (1,2,3). Too much food intake (large amount of calories) can affect the athlete’s performance. In such a situation, the body concentrates more energy on digestion, which reduces the energy available for athletic performance (2.5). In general, the closer you get to the effort, the more sources of fat, protein and fiber should be reduced and even avoided since these nutrients take a long time to digest and can cause digestive discomfort (1,2,3, 5).
As the digestive tolerance is different for each person, food tests must be done before the start of activities (2). The tests are useful to identify which foods are tolerated or not, how much to eat and also how to get the body used to digest food and avoid intestinal discomfort such as diarrhea, gas, bloating, etc. . To avoid these digestive problems, no new food or supplement should be included in the diet during the camp or at a competition (2).
In concrete terms, the following diagram illustrates how the athlete can plan his meals and snacks according to the time available before and between the different physical efforts. The choice of food should be made as much as possible based on food tests and foods well tolerated before the start of the event.
When an athlete has more than one exercise per day, the following five types of meals / snacks should be part of their daily diet to maximize energy levels and avoid digestive problems during exercise. optimize recovery (1):
Sportsman’s plate (1/3)
Eg: Pasta, chicken and broccoli, dessert made from fruit or dairy products or milk substitutes (eg vegetable drinks)
Easier to digest when the time is limited before training
Ex: Less chicken and broccoli, moderation of fat
snack Complex and simple carbohydrates according to the tolerance, moderation of the fibers
Ex: Muffin + fruit
Recovery snack: energy reserve and maintenance of bone mass
Carbohydrates + Dairy products/substitutes fortified with calcium and vitamin D
Ex .: Granola balls with dates + glass of milk
Recovery snack: muscle building, energy reserve and maintenance of bone mass
Protein + Carbohydrates + Dairy products/substitutes fortified with calcium and vitamin D
Ex: Smoothie: egg + fruit + milk
The recommendations can be applied as follows in a camp where there would be two 1h30 ice training sessions followed by two off-ice training sessions of 30 to 45 minutes. Subsequently, a more detailed menu, indicating the intended foods, can be developed.
Planning meals and snacks is important, but hydration planning is equally important.1,2 An optimal state of hydration makes it possible, among other things, to digest and absorb the energy consumed, to control the temperature body, facilitate blood circulation and eliminate metabolic waste (2,4,5).
The color of the urine is a good indicator of the state of hydration. The paler the urine, the better the level of hydration. A minimum of 2 liters of water per day must be consumed to ensure optimal condition of body fluids (2,4,5). A common mistake is to wait to feel thirsty for drinking, as a feeling of high thirst may indicate some degree of dehydration (2.5). Small amounts (150 to 250 ml) should be consumed every 15-20 minutes during exercise (2). Sports drinks are suitable for more than an hour, but water is the best choice for other times of the day (2.5). For more details on hydration, see the article. optimal hydration during sports practices.
Finally, food and water intake planning allows the athlete to have what he needs at the right time and in sufficient quantity to ensure optimal sport performance.
Planning each planned food intake throughout the camp or tournament according to the schedule of activities also allows the athlete to have peace of mind to concentrate to be at his best during training or competitions . By being well prepared and aware of food opportunities, it is also easier to adapt to unforeseen events. As each athlete has a different digestive tolerance and needs, it is important to adapt the previous recommendations according to the specific needs of each.