How to nourish yourself well to prepare a sports challenge

    13 February, 2019

    A sport challenge not only involves physical training, food will become a key factor during the days and even months before, the same day of the competition or challenge and later.

    To know how we have to prepare a race from the food point of view, first of all we have to know a bit how our metabolism works and know what fuels we burn when faced with a sport challenge:
    The substrates that provide us with energy are, first of all, the glucogen muscular and hepatic, the glucoSa circulating, later, the fat of fatty tissue and finally, muscle proteins. Therefore, the use of proteins from the muscle to generate fuel will depend to a large extent on the availability of other substrates.

    So, preparing a sports challenge not only involves physical training, Feeding will become a key factor during the days and even months before, the same day of the competition or challenge and later. Through food we can prevent the effects that the physical effort can cause to our body, and how it can also improve its performance.

    It is true that you have to supply enough fuel in the muscles but you must also take into account that the challenges can be very different and that the same preparation is not necessary to face a marathon race or a long distance cycling race that others with more or less distance or a game of tennis. However, the contribution of carbohydrates is essential when it comes to optimizing physical preparation and performance.

    We sort by order what the steps to follow from the food point of view would be if we were to prepare a challenge or long distance or important physical demand.

    The months before
    The food to follow the months before the test does not need big changes if it is done well. It must be balanced in terms of nutrients and adjusted according to our daily caloric expenditure that will be defined by the basal expenditure, which we add for the work that we carry out during our working day and we will have to add the cost we make to through the exercise. It is convenient to do it in five meals a day, well distributed energetically and sufficiently varied, it is important not to fall into monotony.

    The previous month
    As we get closer to the day of the challenge, it could be a month before, we will begin to vary the proportion of nutrients we ingest daily. The change is justified based on the increase in the intensity and / or duration of the workouts. If this were the case, we will increase the amount of complex carbohydrates or slow absorption, we are talking basically of farinacis (pasta, rice, potatoes, pulses, cereals). If you usually represent 50% of our daily intake, you must increase to 60%. We will reduce the consumption of fats slightly, but not drastically, and the consumption of proteins at 1,2-1,4 g for kg body weight will be maintained.

    Remember! It is interesting to have well-identified foods that belong to each group of nutrients to be able to make variations in the quantities correctly.

    The week before
    It is one of the key points of the preparation. The three or four days before the challenge are those where we have to fill up the reserves of muscle and liver glycogen. Carbohydrates will represent almost 70% of daily caloric intake, they will be between 5-8 grams per kg of weight for the athlete. At the same time, these days the training will not be very intense. As explained above, this overload is not always contemplated, since it is not the same to prepare for a race of 100 km than for a 10 km race. The latter will not be overloaded.

    The day before
    This day, no heavy intakes that can be digestible, no new foods at risk of intolerance, flatulent meals such as cabbage or legumes, rich in fiber such as artichokes or whole foods, are not recommended. Alcoholic beverages are discouraged due to their diuretic effect, which favors dehydration, and foods rich in fats, such as fried foods or sauces.
    We will try to include foods rich in slow absorption carbohydrates in each meal, so we will continue to make fuel reserves and we will not neglect hydration.
    The night before the competition we will dine early to go to bed with the digestion done, and we will eat smooth to facilitate the digestion to the maximum. In this sense, raw foods, sauces, spicy, flatulents, fats, drinks with gas, sugars or whole foods are not recommended. It would be good to opt for a plate of rice or boiled pasta accompanied by a white meat, a trout or a baked white fish or grill, with some baked vegetables and a slice of toasted bread. For desserts a yogurt or a fruit, which can also be cooked to improve digestion.

    Breakfast of the day D
    This meal will be made 2 or 3 hours before the race or challenge. We will choose foods such as bread, non-integral cereals or low fat cookies, but the boiled pasta is not discarded. We will accompany you with cooked ham or turkey, fresh cheese, ketchup or yogurt and a little honey, quince or compote of fruit if you like. We can also include some healthy fat, such as nuts or avocados. Before the race we will continue to do hydration but without spending a couple of glasses there will be enough. To finalize this section, two warnings: the first refers to milk, you have to be careful because it can be difficult to digest. The second goes in relation to coffee: caffeine tolerance is particular to each one, although it is a stimulant and can help with the concentration, also it is necessary to consider its powerful diuretic effect. Therefore, it is not necessary to test the day of the competition.

    During the race
    The intake during the race will depend on the duration of the race. In races that do not exceed the time of exercise, it is not necessary if a load of carbohydrates has been done the previous days. For longer races, it is interesting to go by repositioning energy, since glycogen from exercise hours is running out. Therefore, from the second hour of exercise we should incorporate some 30 g of carbohydrates every hour. To do this, they are useful energy bars or gels, small fresh cheese sandwiches with jam or quince, dried fruits and dehydrated fruit, maria cookies, rice puddings, bread sticks or fresh fruit. We will continue without neglecting the hydration: we will often drink small snacks without waiting to have thirst. It is recommended that the drink be fresh but not cold, to facilitate its assimilation. It is recommended to combine water with an isotonic drink or fruit juice diluted at 50%. It must always be a gas drink.

    After the race
    It's time to make a replacement. We will begin immediately with the replacement of liquids lost with water or fruit juice, vegetable drinks or isotonic drinks. It is about recovering the liquid, minerals and vitamins. The rhythm will be one glass each 20 minutes approximately. Regarding the intake of solids, in many cases, it costs to eat after high-intensity races. It is advisable to choose foods that are easy to assimilate, such as beetroot, porridge or drinkable yogurt. We need to fill glycogen deposits again, as well as repair the muscles of wear we have suffered. A few hours later a full meal will be made, rich in complex carbohydrates based on pasta, potatoes or rice.

    To sum up
    1. Train and rest. So important is good training such as recovery and night rest.
    2. Eat well from the beginning. Feeding is a key factor in achieving the challenge, if you do not know how, let yourself be advised by professionals and do not go to yours.
    3. Remember that complex carbohydrates are your allies, you need fuel.
    4. Attention to the week before the competition or challenge, you can not lower the guard, it is the important moment.
    5. The previous day, do not do experiments, even less on the day of the competition.
    6. On the day of the competition, you can dine well in advance without stifling yourself. You have already worked on the previous days.
    7. During the race, eat if necessary. The best allies will continue to be carbohydrates.
    8. And above all, before, during and after, do not neglect the hydration.
    9. After the test is the replacement and repair time.
    10. Finally, a bad day we all have, listen to the body and leave if you ask for it.

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