Meals for Miles

What you eat for dinner Friday night, can have a major impact on your athletic performance Saturday morning.  Most people simply focus on what they are going to eat the day of their big basketball game or track meet, when in fact, what you eat the night before is just as important.

Make-a-Quick-Italian-Spaghetti-Step-9

The first thing to do, even before considering your meal, is make sure to drink an abundance of water.  It’s impossible to adequately stress the importance of hydration and the major role it plays in the function of your brain, heart, and muscles.  Your body needs more than just a few hours to completely absorb the water you are consuming so while drinking water the morning before your event is crucial, it’s more effective if you start to hydrate the day before.

Although carbs aren’t usually deemed the healthiest out of the three main organic molecules (proteins, lipids, carbohydrates), complex carbohydrates can provide long lasting energy.  Simple carbohydrates such as cookies, chips, bread and rice are easy for your body to break down and are almost immediately transformed into sugar.  On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are higher in fiber and are much harder for your body to break down.  For example, fruits, vegetables, beans, and pasta.

complex and simple carbs2

While eating carbs the night before a sporting event is extremely helpful, if you change your diet so that about 90-95% of your daily calorie intake is composed of complex carbohydrates 2-3 days prior, the effect will be much more drastic.   When you eat a bowl of spaghetti, nearly all of the carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver.  When your body runs out of glycogen during a race, you hit a “wall” and your body must slow down in order to turn fat into energy.  It’s impossible to  completely fill your muscles with glycogen after just one meal so it’s extremely beneficial to begin stocking up on carbs a few days before your next athletic event.

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