Last week I took you down memory lane about how teams that are generally the best in the league always seem to finish anywhere but on top. Poor nutrition and lack of recovery have been the demise and ultimately the cause of some of the biggest upsets. Upon requests to know how, I decided to follow up on some tips for tournament winning nutrition.
Prepare: Preparation is the key to success and if you are willing to spend all that money going on tour, a few days of preparation is worth its weight in gold. Make sure you start at least a week ahead and focus on reducing your simple carbohydrate intake. Excessive carbs hamper your recovery time and hinder mental focus.
Snacks: Leave that shiny vending machine alone and bring your own snacks. Typically you will be playing quite a few short intensive games and your energy consumption will be higher. Pack lean biltong, berries, watermelon, cheese sticks, sunflower seeds and a mixed bag of nuts containing almonds, cashew nuts and pistachios. Stay away from most things that have the word ‘bar’ behind it e.g. breakfast bar, energy bar etc. They contain tons of sugar which will make you lethargic on the field. Your best time for snacks is between games which will help keep your energy levels constant.
Breakfast: choice through cereals which in most cases have been genetically modified over the years for mass production and not to mention full of colourants! An ideal breakfast would be starting with a glass of water then look to foods that are high in protein such as boiled eggs, peanut butter, cottage cheese, tuna, chicken breasts, sirloin steak, full cream yoghurt and full cream milk.
You are allowed to add your almonds and sunflower seeds to breakfast because this will give you a great start to the day. When I said healthy fats, I am not talking about fried oils but rather foods that are going to sustain your energy for longer. Since protein and fats take longer to digest than carbs, you will have Vooma in your tank for longer.
Lunch: Grease will most definitely be on the lunch menu. If you really had to eat at the tuckshop then order a steak or boerewors roll but ditch the roll. If you are still hungry then just order another one. Both are fine to eat and provide you with muscle building and repairing proteins. Fluid and being well hydrated are key to long tournaments. Try stick to water as much as possible but if you feel like something fizzy then try a low GI grapetiser. Stay away from sports drinks and cola’s because they are guaranteed to reduce your performance on the field.
Supper: Supper is relatively easy… You are about to play in the semi-finals and finals the next day and you need every advantage you can get. Proteins, vegetables and salads are what’s going to give the physical and mental edge to compete at a top level. For dessert, you can reward yourself with a fruit salad with a dash of full cream.
Recovery: Get at least 8 to 9 hours of quality sleep. I know it is hard since there is so much happening around you. Sleep is critically important to help reset your mind and help recover your body from a long and hard day’s event.
As you can see above, one of the most important aspects of an athlete’s performance is nutrition and that is often overlooked and can cost teams dearly. Prepare well, keep strict dietary discipline and when the tournament is over, you can then hold up your gold medal in the one hand and a slice of pizza in the other.