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Eating Before Competition

Athletes, coaches, and trainers always ask what should be eaten before a sporting competition. Gone are the days when the pregame meal contained a fatty steak and french fried potatoes—sports nutrition research has elucidated the need for various nutrients before exercise, as well as the importance of timing of food and fluid consumption in the hours leading up to physical activity. This entry reviews what and when to eat and drink prior to an athletic event.

The Pregame Meal

The goals of eating before competition include providing fuel for muscles (especially when the event is longer than 1 hour), providing fluids for hydration, relieving the feeling of hunger, and preventing gastrointestinal distress. A mixed meal of carbohydrate, protein, and fat takes 3 to 4 hours to be ...

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