When you are pushing your body to the sporting extreme and demanding that it responds and ignites at will, the athlete should stop saying that their nutrition is fine, and start putting more emphasis on high-performance nutrition.
Fair enough, good and great nutrition can be compared to the fuel that we use in South Africa. A small car will get away with using good old unleaded 93 Octane but a more powerful car needs 95 octane. When fuel burns, it releases energy and the higher octane means more energy and a higher performance as it can withstand more compression before detonating according to AA.
I could not have said it better myself because nutrition is no different. If you put low-quality foods
into your system, it is not going to allow you to perform at a higher level. Your foods must contain quality proteins, complex carbohydrates, fats and nutrients to give you performing power.
The two questions that I often get asked, are, what should I eat before and after a match?
The answer lies typically in what your sport demands are. Is it an endurance race over hours or is it a high-intensity sport like sevens rugby or basketball.
It becomes quite complex because you would need to analyse how quickly your body burns fuel. Phelps in his peak ate more food in one day than an average professional soccer player would in half a week. Each sport demands something different from you and just in that sentence alone, can help you realise that no two people should be eating the same type and quantities of food. This is why every athlete should see a good sports nutritionist at least once a year.
Not a dietician or ordinary nutritionist but preferably an expert in your sporting field. It is important to remember that pre-match and post-match recovery meals are essential for all athletes but in particular high performing athletes.
Preparation for your event in terms of nutrition should start months in advance not days before the event. In having said that, you can’t twist my words and say “the coach said it makes no difference” if you have fried food a day before your match because it will cause you to be lethargic and ultimately affect your peak performance.
Here are 3 foods that are perfect for pre-match and post-match recovery.
What you are trying to achieve:
You want to make sure you eat food that your body can handle. When you eat foods that are fried and fatty, your body focuses all its attention on trying to digest the food which takes hours. That is why you feel so tired after a big meal. Your body is preparing to digest this big meal you ate. Stick to meals rich in protein, rich in complex carbohydrates and please don’t overdo it as “old school” thoughts would suggest
Do – Eat 2 – 3 hours before a match
Don’t – No fried or greasy foods
– Peanut Butter and Organic Blueberry Jam on a high protein, low carb future life bread
– Homemade Trail Mix comprising of almonds, cashews, dried fruit, pumpkins seeds, walnuts,
cranberries raisins, cocoa nips, sunflower seeds and a bit of granola or popcorn.
– Biltong and Fruit comprising of blueberries, raspberries, plums, oranges and watermelon.
Post Match Recovery
What you are trying to achieve:
After every match, your recovery strategy must kick in immediately. Try and weigh yourself before your match and then weigh yourself after a match. The decrease in body weight must be drunk back in water right there and then. Replacing the fluids lost is your top priority. Aim for mineral water. Once you have completed re-hydrating your body, aim to have a liquid protein shake in the various forms because this allows your body to have amino acid readily available to start the repair process. The quicker your body repairs itself the fast your recovery and that means the quicker you get out there training hard again.
Do – Must have some form of liquid protein and carb drink 45minutes after your match
Don’t – Overload yourself with carbohydrates, they are important but in moderation
– Water and lots of it
– Chocolate milk, protein shake or full cream or Coconut Water with a whey protein
– Peanut button bomb smoothie from Kauai
Sean Van Staden is the proud husband of an amazing woman and mom and the ‘Daddy Pig’ – (thank you Pepper Pig for brainwashing my children, in a good way) – of two little Gremlins, Jordan and Haylee, who are fast approaching three and four years of age. In his quest to give his children the tools to succeed, Sean’s blog tackles topics of nutrition, physical development, exercise, mental toughness, building confidence, self-esteem, sport, wellness, and just about anything that will help his children, and hopefully yours, grow in the right direction.
You can find Sean at ASP – Sports Science