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What to Eat Before Practice/Race

Athlete Scenario

The day of a meet, I often feel nervous and sometimes skip
lunch, only to feel hungry later. Meets are usually in the afternoon so
I know I need to eat something beforehand. What foods can I eat and at what times to
supply me with enough energy to perform well the entire race?

Goals of Nutrition Before Exercise

Consume a carbohydrate-rich snack or meal before exercise to top off muscle
stores. With pre-competition jitters, liquid meal replacements may be a better
choice than whole foods.

Include small amounts of protein in your pre-exercise meal(s). Protein helps
build and repair muscle tissue. Adequate protein before exercise may help
reduce post-exercise muscle soreness.

• Choose pre-exercise meal(s) that are low in fat and fi ber to ensure
optimal digestion.


Pre-exercise Foods & Fluids

3–4 Hours Before Exercise


• Peanut butter & honey on toast + instant breakfast drink

• Fruit and yogurt smoothie + low-fat granola


• Oatmeal with brown sugar and almonds + skim milk + banana


• Low-fat cottage cheese + apple butter + crackers + fresh grapes


• Lean hamburger on bun with lettuce & tomato + side salad +

yogurt-fruit parfait

• Turkey and Swiss sandwich + fruit + sports drink

• Low-fat tuna melt sandwich + fruit cup + fat-free yogurt
30–60 Minutes Before Exercise

• Sports drink or water

• Sports gel, sport beans or gummies, sports bar

• Piece of fruit or jam sandwich

Tips to Take With You

1. Experiment with foods and drinks in
practice and lower level competitions
to determine the best timing and your
tolerance for pre-exercise foods.


2. Practice! Figuring out what works best for
you will boost confidence in eating
before exercise.



3. Fuel muscles early with easily digestible carbohydrate-rich foods and beverages for training or competition later in the day.

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