We continue our Summer Tournament Survival Guide with part two. If you missed part one, make sure to review it first HERE.
As we covered in part one, there are four keys to keeping your performance high during a tournament. Those keys become more vital during hot summer tournaments when your body is under more stress from the added heat and the multiple games in one day or over the course of the weekend. In this article, we’ll walk you through a sample nutrition and fueling plan you can use as a guide for your next tournament. We’ll also implement the four keys to success from part I.
So without further ado, here is your sample nutrition and fueling guide for your summer tournaments.
Summer Tournament Sample Nutrition and Fueling Plan:
Night Before the Tournament
Most amateur athletes use the night before a tournament to pack what they will need at their tournament and call it a night. Some may add a few more carbs to their dinner, but most aren’t considering the impact their dinner can have on their performance during the next day or next couple days.
The night before your tournament is a time to get your body charged and ready for the hard fought weekend ahead.
We all know the impact dehydration can have on our bodies. From heat exhaustion, heat stroke, cramps, heart rhythm disturbances to seizures. Dehydration can be something very serious and dangerous. As mentioned in part one, even a slight amount of dehydration of 1% – 2% can affect your performance. The night/day before is a time to take in plenty of water to help you start the tournament better and help you fight dehydration during the tournament.
The night before is also a time to consume some good carbs and lay off hard digesting foods. Although you don’t need to load up on huge plates full of carbohydrates, it is a good idea to have some good, slow digesting carbohydrates (like pasta, beans, sweet potatoes) that will help load up your glycogen (energy) stores. Our bodies can store between 400 to 500 calories of glycogen at a time. So, much like hydration, this is a good time to load up your glycogen stores and get ready for the weekend.
Along with your carbohydrates, this is a good time to have some protein too, but you will want to stay away from harder digesting protein, like beef. Instead, stick with chicken or seafood. Beef will take more energy and time to digest.
Morning of The Tournament
As you wake up the morning of the tournament, you should be thinking of two things. 1) If you got a full night sleep, you probably went eight hours without drinking anything, so your body is already partially dehydrated. 2) Even though you were sleeping, your body was still working, so it’s been drawing energy from your glycogen stores for the last eight hours.
As soon, as you wake up, drink at least 24 oz of water to help you get hydrated and your day started off right. Although you won’t need to drink huge amounts of water at any one time, it is a good idea to have a steady amount of water to keep you fully hydrated.
With breakfast, you also had a good amount of carbs the night before, so you are just looking to top off your glycogen stores. A breakfast with some old fashion oatmeal or whole grains and maybe some fruit should do the trick.
Leading Up To The First Event
As your first event approaches and you get ready to hit the field or court, you’ll want to start tapering off your hydration. About 30 minutes before your first event starts, will be a good time to cut back on the water to give yourself enough time to use the restroom if needed. The last thing you want is to use the restroom during competition time.
You may also take a small bite of an easily digestible carbohydrate, but this isn’t the time to try and load up on carbs now. Consuming many carbs can actually do more harm than good right now. Your body needs blood to digest food, which will take away from your performance. If you do take a bit of anything, make sure it will digest quickly.
Something else to consider is endurance and/or lactic acid buffer supplements. With a tournament comprised of two, three or more events in a single day, endurance and lactic acid are two factors that will determine performance. As the day goes on, the lactic acid buildup will become more and more of a factor. Having a buffer will have a larger impact as the day goes on.
Although there are a variety of supplements to choose from, Cardio Surge Energy is one example, which has had a track record of success and focuses by optimizing your body’s natural energy pathways to improve cardiovascular production and endurance while removing lactic acid. Whichever supplement you choose, make sure you take a little time to do some research and know what you are using. I have seen “endurance supplements” that are nothing more than caffeine and some electrolytes, which won't help you much as the tournament goes on.
Once you’re done with your first event of the day, it will be time to reload and get ready for your next event.
Most tournaments allow one to two hours between events, which doesn’t allow much time for digesting a big meal or heavy meals. Your best bet is to stick to something that is easily digested and/or small meals. Your focus will be to replace depleted glycogen (energy) stores. If you are allowed two hours, you may get in some more solid foods like oatmeal or some pasta. Either way, I would stick with something that digests quickly. Be sure to rehydrate as well.
For those who have one hour between events, which is more common, you can go a couple different ways here. Again, you’re trying to replenish energy quickly.
Although I wouldn’t normally recommend this, because of the sugar content, having Greek Yogurt right after your event will help you replenish used energy stores quickly. I personally like Greek’s God Greek Yogurt. It is easily digested; it has protein and carbohydrates, as well as some of the major electrolytes and is high in energy at 290 calories per serving. You can top this off with some extra protein and fruit and get ready for your next event. One thing to keep in mind is the sugar content; having too much in one sitting can be harmful by creating the well-known spike in energy followed by a crash in energy. One to two serving should be more than enough in one sitting.
If you do want something a little bit more solid, you can add granola to your yogurt or if you choose something else altogether, make sure it is easily digested and/or only have a little in one sitting. You don’t want your body to use too much energy digesting food while you are trying to compete on the field or court.
Another option here is a sports carbohydrate drink. By sports carbohydrate drink, I am not talking about sugar filled drinks like Gatorade or a Rock Star energy drink. I am talking about a high-quality carbohydrate supplements, which is designed to load glycogen stores without creating the spike then crash in energy. Glyco-Muscle Fueler is one option you may consider. Formulated using Karbo-lyn, Glyco-Muscle Fueler provides up to two hours of sustained energy as well as electrolytes, B vitamins and much more. Whichever carbohydrate you choose, you will want to stay away from the typical dextrose and/or waxy maize, as carbohydrates have come a long way and offer much better performing carbohydrates now.
After each event, you will want to repeater this reloading cycle or some variation of it until the end of the day.
End Of The First Day
At the end of the day, your muscles have been through a tough day of competition and will need to do some healing. You can look at it as a tough day of training. After any tough training session, speeding up recovery is key. It becomes that much more important if you have a second day to your tournament.
The quicker you can get yourself ready for the next day of competition the better you will be able to perform. Much like the night before the tournament, you’ll want to make sure you are hydrated and you will want to load up your glycogen stores as well as get in some easy-digesting protein to help repair your muscle. Following your nutrition plan from the night before the tournament will help you get ready for the second day of competition.
Another technique, which will help you speed recovery, is to flush out as much lactic acid from your muscle as you can and to relax your muscles. This is an additional benefit to supplementing with a good endurance supplement. A good endurance supplement will help to remove more lactic acid and cell pollutants during the day, so you won't have as much build-up in your muscles now. To remove more lactic acid, you can use a foam roller to roll over on your muscle, which will help to loosen them up. You can also use hot/cold treatment, switching between cold and hot water in a bath or shower. Finally, this is a bit more costly, but if available, you can also use an electric stim machine, which will help to relax your muscles and flush lactic acid and other cell pollutants out. This last step may seem unnecessary, but it will make a difference heading into the second day of your tournament.
There you have a sample nutrition and fueling plan to help you get through your tournament weekend. If you currently have a plan in place, you may just want to add to it or try something new. Whichever, you decide to make sure you always keep yourself fuel-up and hydrated during those long hot summer days.