Is your weekend packed with a long tourney? Then you better pack your stomach with the right foods. Eat up this tournament fueling advice from New York Giants nutrition consultant Heidi Skolnik.
Pre-activity - Two days before
Failing to fuel will leave you hitting the wall instead of hitting killer serves or money jump shots. "You could begin feeling less coordinated, and your depth perception may even be thrown off," Skolnik says. "Your perceived exertion also increases, so you feel as though you're working harder than you actually are."
These symptoms are exactly why you need to load up with adequate nutrients before playing multiple games or matches. In fact, the process should start about two days before the event, because "it really takes 24 to 48 hours to stock your muscles," Skolnik says.
Consuming high carb foods is a surefire way to prep your muscles if your sport is endurance-based. According to Skolnik, carbs, like pasta, rice, potatoes, grains and fruit, should comprise 60 to 65 percent of your meal. If your sport is more stopand- go, a meal of 40 to 50 percent carbs will suffice. Her meal of choice: chicken stir-fry with brown rice and vegetables. Pasta with shrimp and broccoli is another solid option.
Hydrating pre-tourney is also key. "You won't perform at your peak if you're dehydrated," Skolnik says. She recommends consuming fluids with every meal and in between. Two hours before your tourney, down one to three cups more, depending on your size. Add another eight ounces right before activity.
Post-activity - 15 minutes after
Maximizing your recovery after a weekend of competing is a twofold process. "There's energy recovery, which is restocking your muscles so you are refueled and ready to go again," Skolnik explains. "There's also resiliency recovery, meaning your immune system."
Since, according to research in the Journal of Sports Sciences, heavy training depresses immune cell function, your body calls for a nutrient-dense meal with key immune-boosting vitamins, such as A, B-6, B-12, E, iron and zinc, as well as carbs and protein. "Carbohydrates help with energy, and protein helps with both muscle tissue repair and immune function, but it's nutrients like vitamin C that help with soft tissue damage," Skolnik says. Start refueling within 15 minutes of activity. A recovery drink is a great option, because it provides fluid, carbs and protein. If you prefer solid food, opt for an energy bar, peanut butter with crackers or a three-ounce tuna pouch with crackers.
Within two hours, eat again with the following Skolnik-recommended dish: a three-ounce sirloin steak with a sweet potato, brown rice and cantaloupe. This iron- and zinc-rich power meal will provide a healthy dose of protein [25g from the steak] and plenty of vitamin C [about 70 mg from the sweet potato and cantaloupe], an antioxidant that helps the body absorb iron.
* For 1½ C long-grain brown rice, 3 oz. of chicken breast tenders, ¾C vegetable medley [broccoli, carrots, snap peas, water chestnuts] and 1 tsp. olive oil
* For a 3 oz. sirloin, medium sweet potato, 1C long-grain brown rice and 1C diced cantaloupe
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