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Nutrition & Hydration – a practical guide for athletes

Nutrition & Hydration – a practical guide for athletes

Your body is like a machine. It needs to be well looked after for you to perform at your best. This includes refueling (eating) and hydrating (fluids). It is also very important that enough sleep is obtained leading up to a carnival.

General nutrition

You need to eat well every day, not just before you compete.  Young, growing and active bodies require plenty of energy from a variety of healthy foods. They also need water on a regular basis, every day.

  • Aim for 3 meals a day and 2 small snacks
  • Time your meals so they are of the most benefit to you
  • Eat breakfast!!! Every day!!! If you are not a breakfast eater you need to start. Get up ½ an earlier than normal to boost your appetite.
  • Try to include whole grains with a low glycemic index (cereals breads, pasta, rice, legumes, fruit and vegetables) throughout the day
  • If you are training more you may need to increase your carbohydrates – this is where your energy will come from.
  • Protein such as lean beef, lamb, chicken dairy eggs and nuts are important sources of iron and calcium and are essential for athletes (iron and calcium especially for long distance runners)
  • Include only small amounts of fat and sweet treats

Day before competition:

The night before a carnival, it is a good idea to have a high carbohydrate, moderate protein and low fat meal.  Examples include: rice dishes, potato, spaghetti bolognaise, fried rice, stir fry with rice or noodles, homemade hamburgers, bread rolls and lean chicken.  This will give you a good base for the following day. Start hydrating – drink plenty of water

Eating on competition day:  Breakfast is VERY important.  Your body needs food to fire up for the day. If you do not normally eat breakfast, you need to start having breakfast on a regular basis before the carnival so that your stomach is used to it on carnival day.  Juice, toast, cereal, fruit & yoghurt are good and should be eaten 2 hours before you start competing. If you are nervous or don’t have time you could try a liquid meal – sustagen, up and go, fruit smoothie etc. Drink water with breakfast.

During the Carnival:

Small frequent snacks often work best. If you have a break for q numbers of hours then time your lunch for then. Eating within 15-20 minutes of each event will replenish glucose stores.  What you eat will depend on the timing of your next event.

Lunch: salad wraps/sandwiches, chicken wraps (meat is not recommended as it takes 2-4 hours to digest), snacks fruit, muesli bars (but not chocolate coated), fruit bars, honey/jam sandwiches, muffins, sultanas, pikelets, canned fruit, bread rolls, crackers, rice cakes, popcorn etc .


NO LOLLIES or SOFT DRINKS until all events are finished (except diabetic athletes who may need some).

Hydration                 Water is the best drink for everyday use

Take small sips frequently throughout the day

Sports drinks provide electrolytes including sodium and can be useful for during competitions for rehydrating

Energy drinks containing coffee should be avoided

Continue to hydrate after the carnival.

After the carnival

Aim to consume something small within 30minutes of competition (examples: muesli bar, sports drink, sustogen, fruit smoothie, yoghurt, salad sandwich)

Try and have a high carbohydrate meal combined with protein for dinner. This will go a long way in helping to replenish your bodies much needed energy stores and help to restore muscle functioning.