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A Healthy Diet: Before, During, and After Competition

A Healthy Diet:
Before, During, and After Competition

How should I eat before a competition?
During a competition?
After a competition?

If you're an athlete, you need the same healthy diet that all teens need—one that's high in grains, fruits, and vegetables, and low in fat. Use the Food Guide Pyramid to make sure you are getting the right amount from each food group. Because you're gearing up for a competition, you may need to make a few adjustments to get the fuel you need to keep up with the demands of your sport. back to top

How should I eat before a competition?
  • One to six hours before a competition, eat a meal that is high in carbohydrates and low in fat, like rice and veggies. If the event is less than four hours away, eat enough so that you won't get hungry but not so much that you'll be full and uncomfortable.
  • Two hours before, drink at least two cups (16 ounces) of water or fruit juice. Avoid beverages that have caffeine. They can cause dehydration.
  • Within 15 minutes before, drink two cups (16 ounces) of cold water.
Hint: If your event is in the morning, eat a carbohydrate-rich dinner and bedtime snack like frozen grapes the night before. Then eat a light meal in the morning. This should be high in carbohydrates too. back to top

During a competition?
  • Every 15 minutes drink half a cup (4 ounces) of cold water.
Hint: If your event is an endurance event that lasts an hour or more, like long-distance running, you need carbohydrates as well as water, so drink a mix of half fruit juice and half water, rather than plain water, or have a sports drink. back to top

After a competition?
  • Right away and throughout the rest of the day, catch up on the fluids you lost through sweating. Sweat is mostly water. Try to drink two cups of fluid that contain carbohydrates (fruit juice, milk, soy milk, sports drinks, or watery foods, like soup) for every pound you lose during your activity. To do this, you need to weigh yourself before and after the event. Otherwise, just drink several cups of fluid. You can't overdo it. Your body will just get rid of the extra fluid.
  • Within several hours, eat a high-carbohydrate meal. This will refill your muscles' supply of glycogen.
Hint: The sooner you eat this meal after competition, the better. If you can't eat right away, at least get plenty of carbohydrate-rich fluids. back to top

Last Modified Date: 12/8/2000
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