Nutrition is just as important in your sport preparation as fitness training is.

The following are excerpts from an article by Jeni Pearce:

Food for Sport: The Road to Recovery (Jeni Pearce)

"Nutritional needs after competition or heavy training are generally not considered by coaches or athletes. During exercise you use the energy stored in your muscles as fuel. This energy is supplied from the carbohydrates you eat as food. High carbohydrate foods including bread, cereal, rice, pasta, potatoes, muffins and crackers and fruits such as bananas, apricots, peaches, pineapples and raisins ensure speedy recovery. After excessive exercise refuelling the body's energy supplies is crucial. Almost total glycogen depletion of working muscles can occur within 1 to 2 hours of severe exercise.

Food provided for the after game/match functions has a tendency to hinder sports people's efforts to replace fuel stores. Dishes tend to be high in protein, high in fat (including takeaways eaten in the bus on the way home) and low in carbohydrate. Suitable fluids are often replaced with alcoholic, high protein or high fat beverages. It is important to rehydrate with water or fruit juices after training.

Alcohol is a poor source of carbohydrates and hinders rehydration. Sports people should avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach after training, game or workout then driving home. Quench the thirst with three glasses of water, one glass of fruit juice and eat foods containing carbohydrates before alcohol.

Many athletes consume around 300 to 350g of carbohydrate per day. This is not enough to replace the muscle glycogen used daily during training. Eating 500 to 600 g appears adequate. (There is evidence to suggest that consuming amounts above this level does not give any additional benefit.) Aim to replace about 17 to 20 kilojoules/kg body weight in the first two hours. This is around 1050 to 1800 kj (or 250 to 400 calories) for most people.

Following the guidelines below will aid recovery and provide fuel for muscles to continue activity. Recovery is an integral part of training.

  1. Eat carbohydrate rich foods 15 to 30 minutes after exercise. Drink fruit juice, eat fresh fruit (banana, orange, apple, peaches, pineapple), crackers, sandwiches,(Iow fat filling) and yoghurt. Foods with a high fibre should be eaten after the first hour of recovery. Fluids with 7 to 10% glucose or polycose are suitable after events.
  2. About 1260 kj (300 calories) which supplies around lOOg of carbohydrate, should be eaten immediately after exercise. This can be gained from a variety of sources: A 2OOg bottle of fruit flavoured yoghurt (30g of carbohydrate), 2 slices of wholegrain bread (30), a large banana (30g) 2 glasses of fruit juice (70g), 50g dried fruit (35g). Repeat in the second hour.
  3. Additional servings of carbohydrates should be eaten in the first two hours after training or competition. Foods such as muffins, fruit juice, soup and crackers, spaghetti and toast. rolls, fruit yoghurt, sandwiches, and fresh or dried fruit. Repeat these foods again in a meal three to four hours later and include some protein. Remember to eat according to your needs. This is not an excuse to overeat.
  4. After a hard training session (2 or more hours) or an event such as a marathon, Ironman or Coast to Coast maintain a high intake of carbohydrate rich foods for the next few days (at least two days). Foods to be included are: rice, pasta, baked potatoes, pizza with low fat toppings, kumera, pumpkin, fruits and beverages.
  5. Rest. Especially after a long endurance event such as a marathon etc.
  6. Eat plenty of fresh fruit (such as bananas, apricots), dried fruit, vegetables, and drink a variety of juices. This helps to maintain potassium intakes.
  7. If eating solid food is uncomfortable, liquid carbohydrate sources such as Exceed High Carbohydrate Sources, Polycose, Ensure, or sports drinks containing polycose may be useful if well tolerated.
  8. Drink plenty of fluids after the event or training. It is difficult to gauge how well hydrated you are by how thirsty you feel. Keep sipping and drink more than you think you will need. Water is fine. However drinking something with a little sugar such as fruit juice, soft drinks (not diet varieties as these have no sugar) and sports drinks are more helpful. A beverage with some sugar or glucose helps return blood sugar levels to normal and replace some glycogen. No alcohol (a diuretic promoting water loss in the urine) until other fluids have been replaced. If drinking alcohol consume at least double the amount of other fluids.
  9. If sweat losses are high, sprinkle a little extra salt on food at meal times. It is not necessary to use salt tablets.
  10. Drink more fluid than quenches thirst. Keep drinking fluids, especially water, until a light coloured urine is produced. This can take several days if dehydration is severe.
  11. Fruit juices are preferable to commercial sports drinks, more economical and widely available. They help replace some of the energy burned during training or competition and reduce the risk of mixing formula beverages and fluids at an inappropriate concentration.

The main meal eaten after exercise will replace the minerals and vitamins used during activity. Supplements are not necessary in the recovery phrase.

  1. Recovery is an integral part of training. It is the first step in the
  2. preparation for the next workout game or race.

Carbo-Booster recovery Drink.

  • 1 cup trim milk
  • 2 tbsdns skim milk powder
  • 1 large banana
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • Analysis: 1104 kj (263 calories), Carbohydrate 70%, Protein 27% fat 3,7%. One small scoop of ice cream can be added. However this will increase both the fat and energy content of the drink.

    Carbohydrate contents in grams:

    Fruit yoghurt 1 pottle 150g 25

    Flavoured MiIk 1 cup 250 mls 22

    Ice cream 1 scoop 120g 25

    Raisins 4 tbls 29

    Banana 1 large 125 g 30

    Fruit Salad 1 cup 32

    Bread 2 slices 30

    Rice 1 cup 32

    Orange 1 large 15

    Orange Juice 1 cup 250 mls 24

    Potato I large 22

    Pre Tournament Build Up

    You should be eating a good well balanced diet in your build up. Carbohydrates

    When training you should have some sort of carbohydrate food 2 hours prior to a training session e.g banana, fruit, crackers, yoghurt. Then approximately 15-20 minutes after training more carbohydrate to replace the energy burned up e.g fruit juice and fresh fruit. During a training session you should be drinking plenty of fluids - especially water.

    Too much fat in your diet means it takes longer for water to absorb and carbohydrates to enter the blood stream.

    Three days before the tournament


    Carbohydrate loading is not overeating. The proportion of Carbohydrate in the daily intake changes. This involves reducing the fat and protein content: include more foods from the bread and cereal and fruit and vegetable food groups. It may be necessary to increase the amount of sugar, honey or foods containing sugar to elevate the carbohydrate content to avoid an excessive increase the bulk of food eaten. The meals should consist of a variety of foods that are pleasant to eat.



    1 glass fruit juice (not tomato)

    1 cup cereal

    1 large banana

    1 cup low fat milk

    2 toast or an english muffin

    1 tsp butter or margarine


    2 chicken vogal sandwiches

    2 glass fruit juice

    2 pieces fruit

    1 muffin


    2 cups spaghetti or rice

    1 cup savoury tomato topping grated cheese

    *2 T Parmesan or 4 T low fat cheese

    3 slices bread or 4 French bread

    1-2 cups fresh fruit salad or rice pudding

    ½ cup yoghurt or ice cream


    2 fruit

    ½ cup raisins

    3 biscuits

    1 glass fruit juice

    For peak sports performance it is necessary to fuel up with the right fuel. There is no one magic food which will allow an athlete to train harder, longer, get stronger or improve performance. However, a high carbohydrate intake will supply the muscles with the energy they need. Choose wholesome nutrient-dense foods during training and before events.

    Potato, Kumera, Yams: Boiled, baked and mashed potatoes are high in CHO, low in fat, providing some protein and vitamins. Limit added fats such as butter, oil and frying or roasting. Use lite sour cream, low fat milks, or yoghurt to replace sour cream.

    Bread, Rolls, Muffins, Fruit Loaf, Scones, Tortillas: Choose those varieties made with wholegrain flour, or oatmeal to provide more fibre. Keep butter intakes and high sugar toppings to a minimum. Try to add fillings low in fat (lean meats and low fat cheese) and high in CHO (banana, dried fruit).

    Cereals (Hot): Porridge and other similar cereals with added dried fruit (banana, dates, apricots, raisins), syrups (golden, maple), or even brown sugar increase the CHO intake. Cereals with oat bran help to lower blood cholesterol levels. Pancakes, trench toast and waffles are increasing in popularity. Cover with fruit sauces, apples sauce rather than butter or cream.

    Cereals (Cold): Denser cereals such as muesli, bran flakes, weetbix, provide more CHO than light airy cereals (rice bubbles, puffed wheat). Choose higher fibre varieties and . add fresh, stewed or dried fruit. Add a glass of orange juice (increases iron absorption) or fresh fruit such as grapefruit.

    Millet and bulgar can be made into high CHO salads and added to meals.

    Dried Beans, Peas and Lentils: chilli with beans, chick pea salad, baked beans, pea soup, Lima beans etc are excellent sources of CHO which are low in fat and also high in fibre. They must be well cooked and take care not to overeat as they may cause discomfort for some people.

    Low Fat snacks: These include popcorn, crackers and corn chips. Keep the butter and salt away from the popcorn and add low fat toppings to crackers.

    Rice: Chinese fried rice is high in oil, choose steamed or boiled rice where possible. Brown rice contains more nutrients than white.

    Pasta: Choose a tomato based sauce rather than cheese, oil, cream or butter sauce. Athletes need an increase in CHO not fat. Meat sauces must be lean to prevent fat loading instead of carbo loading.

    Fruit: Bananas, pineapple, dried fruits contain more CHO than watery fruits such as oranges, peaches, grapefruit and melons. Be careful not to overload. It could result in diarrhoea.

    Juice: More CHO is found in apple, pineapple, cranberry, grape, apricot juices than orange, grapefruit or tomato juice. To increase the energy lever of these juices dilute with less water. Blending fresh fruit with fruit juice (Fruit Smoothie) are high CHO drinks.

    Puddings and Desserts: Many desserts (ice cream, cheesecake) are high in fat. More fat is added with cream toppings, butter and pastry. Choose apple crumbles, fruit crisps, brown rice pudding (with added fresh or dried fruit), slices of loaf or biscuits made with wholemeal flours. Sherberts, yoghurt, fruit ices, sorbet are all low fat alternatives to ice cream.

    Low Nutrient Dense Carbohydrate foods: This includes: Soft drinks, fizzy drinks, cordials, all forms of sugar, (white, honey, brown, raw, icing, glucose) jelly, lollies, marshmallow, jelly beans, etc. These foods supply CHO to fuel muscles but do not provide any other useful nutrients. Used in moderation offer variety but should be in addition to the nutrient-dense CHO foods.

    Night Before

    Be very careful of food choices provided at pasta parties. Often food is served with rich creamy cheesy sauces or swimming in oil. Choose baked potatoes instead of roast or fried chips, light spaghetti sauces, but take care with macaroni cheese and pizza which are often covered with cheese. Choose lean meats, such as chicken (no skin), or fish (no batter) and vegetables. Potatoes, pumpkin, kumera, peas, broad beans, and parsnips are fine. Drink plenty of fluids.

    For nervous stomachs the night before a tournament, use a carbohydrate supplement drink.

    2-3 slices low fat pizza with salad (oil and vinegar dressing). Or 2 cups spaghetti with tomato topping and 3 slices bread or 1 cup chicken with three baked potatoes, peas and kumera or 2 cup rice with ½ cup grilled diced meat or lean mince. Add: salad and other vegetables (especially green leaf vegetables)

    Add: fruit, fruit salad, biscuit, yoghurt as required and drink sufficient fluids.

    During a Tournament

    Have breakfast

    Rice bubbles (low in fibre) and peaches (in natural juice)

    Low fat milk

    Fruit juice (casked juice - not sachet) dilute fruit juice with water

    Toast with a light spread

    High Carbohydrate drink (Exceed)

    Now comes the complicated part. During the tournament you need to replenish the energy being used up - to do this you need to eat carbohydrates and replace the fluids - but you can't play underwater hockey on a full stomach. Carbohydrates take 2 hours to digest - sometimes 3 if you digest your food slowly.

    You should drink plenty of water and fluid replacement drinks containing a little energy e.g diluted fruit juice. Exceed Carbohydrate drinks should only be used in the morning and at night - not during the tournament.

    Work out a timetable based on your draw. e.g if you have five games in a day at 10.00, 11.30, 2.00. 4.00, 4.50.

    You will have breakfast at 7.00 - 8.00

    Play at 10.00

    Straight after your game have a piece of fruit or yoghurt and fruit juice.

    Play 11.30

    Then have a filled roll - muffin (no bran) or something a bit substantial as you have a reasonable break before your next game.

    Remember to be drinking plenty of fluids.

    Play 2.00

    Afterr the game eat sandwich/crackers/fruit/or sweet biscuit.

    Play 4.00

    Just something very light - piece of fruit.

    Play 4.50

    It is important to replenish your energy level even though you may have finished playing for the day - if you've got more games the next day you need to build up your glucogen supply.

    You need to have small amounts of carbohydrate food where you are having less than 2 hours before games. Where you have two hours or more you can eat more carbohydrate food.

    Bear in mind some of the following points:

    The Aftermath

    It is just as important to eat after the tournament as it is to eat prior and during a tournament.

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