Getting your food intake just right before a physie comp can make all the difference to how you feel and how you perform on the day. There’s some really great and some not so great ideas out there about what to eat for physie comps so let’s take a look.
For food to be useful to you as energy it has to be absorbed first. The Australian Institute of Sport recommends a meal 3-4 hours before your event and a light snack 1-2 hours before (and they produce gold-medal Olympians so they should know!) Go mainly for carbohydrates and fluids and eat smaller amounts of the protein, fat and fibre low on competition day. At the bottom of this blog is a list of suggestions from the AIS.
It’s common to see physie girls drinking high sugar drinks, eating lollies or taking glucose tablets just before competing. The danger here is that foods with a high GI cause a rapid, short-lived rise in blood glucose. When the blood glucose levels inevitably drop again, this can lead to pronounced fatigue and sometimes shakiness and dizziness. The best idea is to stick to low GI foods before your comp and to maintain your hydration with frequent but small amounts of water or sports drink right up to the event. Basically, on comp day, eat things that your body is used to eating and don’t mess with your glucose levels.
Should I Carbo-Load? Carbohydrate loading has been proven to improve performance for athletes who are exercising at high intensity for 90 minutes or more (like marathon runners). Physie routines are generally 1-2 minutes of intensity, then a break to change lines and recover, with the whole syllabus taking 7-10 minutes. So, no it’s just not necessary.
If your comp is first thing in the morning, you can’t really eat 3-4 hours earlier, so opt for a snack like fruit and a cereal bar with milk or juice. If you feel too nervous to eat, remember that your body does need fuel and fluid to perform well so try a liquid meal supplement or nibble slowly on a cereal or sports bar. It goes without saying that you should never fast before an event – but we’ll say it anyway… you can’t ask your body to perform if you don’t give it something to turn into energy.
What should I eat after the comps? If you’ve exercised hard, you’ll need to replenish your glycogen stores so eat a carbohydrate-rich snack within 2 hours of the event (high GI like bananas, potatos, rice) and then a carboyhdrate-rich meal with moderate GI 2-3 hours after the event (eg pasta and beans). Make sure you replenish any fluid lost through sweating by drinking lots of water and top up your protein intake to allow tissue growth and repair.
From the AIS website: The following foods are suitable to eat 3-4 hours before exercise:
- crumpets with jam or honey + flavoured milk
- baked potato + cottage cheese + glass of milk
- baked beans on toast
- breakfast cereal with milk
- bread roll with cheese/meat filling + banana
- fruit salad with fruit-flavoured yoghurt
- pasta or rice with a low-fat sauce (e.g.veg, lean meat)
The following snacks are suitable to eat 1-2 hours before exercise:
- liquid meal supplement
- milk shake or fruit smoothie
- sports bars (check labels for carbohydrate and protein)
- breakfast cereal with milk
- cereal bars
- fruit-flavoured yoghurt
- fruit (oranges, rockmelon)