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Nutrition for a competitive edge

As game time approaches, it is important to consider the type of foods that will best fuel your body for the big event. The right nutrition can make the difference between achieving your personal best and having a complete blowout. The two most important nutrients that give you a competitive edge are fluids and carbohydrates.

Hydration should begin between 24 and 48 hours prior to your event. Even of you find yourself sprinting to the rest room, do not neglect the hydration process. Concentrate on non-caffeinated beverages such as water, sports drinks, and natural juices. Excessive caffeine may be detrimental, since it can overly stimulate urine production, which may in turn lead to dehydration. Two hours prior to the event, 16 to 24 ounces of fluid should be consumed. Throughout the competition, be sure to drink between four and eight ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes. If you are competing in an event that lasts more than one hour, drinks that contain some carbohydrate can enhance performance. In the hour following the event, be sure to drink 24 ounces of fluid. This will speed up recovery time.

Although protein and fats are crucial components of your training diet, the closer you are to the big day, the greater your carbohydrate consumption should be. Within the 24-48 hour period prior to the event, increase your carbohydrate intake. Focus predominantly on complex carbohydrates, which include foods such as wheat breads and pastas, brown rice, vegetables, bran cereals, etc. These foods will help stabilize your blood sugar. The simple carbohydrate foods such as energy bars, energy gels, and energy drinks can be consumed during the event, since they provide a quick source of energy. To provide faster post-event recovery, consume at least 100 grams of carbohydrate when the event is over.

Recently the concept of the glycemic index has been creating quite a stir amongst athletes and sports nutrition experts. The glycemic index is a measurement of how rapidly an ingested carbohydrate will trigger a rise in the circulating blood glucose level. A higher glycemic index is indicative of a faster blood sugar response. The glycemic index scale, which runs from 0-100 ranks food in relationship to glucose, with 100 being pure glucose. A food’s glycemic ranking can be influenced by a number of factors. For example, higher fiber foods are absorbed more slowly, and therefore have a lower glycemic index. Riper fruits have higher sugar content than fruits that are still green, so their glycemic index is higher.

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