When competing in longer or multiple events in a day, such as those with a halftime or a swim or track meet, extra fuel along with a hydration strategy during competition may be warranted to sustain energy levels and performance.
What to Do:
Hydration – Maintaining hydration levels throughout competition and/or practice is essential to performance. With as little as a 2% weight loss from water weight (3 pounds for a 150 pound athlete) lost through sweat, performance can start to suffer. Cramping, nausea, heavy legs, dizziness and exhaustion are all signs of dehydration. In addition to properly hydrating prior to activity, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association recommends consuming 7 – 10 oz of fluid every 10-20 minutes – roughly 2-3 large gulps. This can be either water or sports drinks. Sports drinks are which recommended for activity lasting longer than an hour, for those who are heavy sweaters or those are cramp easily.
Quick Digesting Carbs – Utilizing foods that the body can digest quickly and easily can help to maintain and/boost energy levels during long (greater than 60 minutes) bouts of activity. Things such as sports drinks, bars, gels, chews, low fiber granola bars, squeezable applesauce, fruit leathers or cereal bars may be good options. Fruit can also be used, but may cause stomach upset in some individuals.
The bottom line is to make fueling part of your training plan, don’t try anything new on game day!
Tara Boening is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian with a Board Certification in Sports Dietetics. She currently works full time in collegiate athletics.