Hi hi hi hi hi!
As you know from yesterday’s weekend recap, I was up at Yale for the Ivy squash scrimmages. Since this was my first tournament/competition in a while, it really got me thinking about my pre-match meals.
A while back, my coach, Chris, interviewed me for his own blog (Serious Squash). I already shared part of the interview here, but have been saving the rest of it for this post- What I eat during a tournament!
Although I am a big believer of the “train how you want to compete” philosophy, I find that my nutrition during a competition really does need to be extra precise. Over the years as I’ve learned more about proper nutrition and training, my rituals and habits are now almost down to a science. Although I’ve got it pretty down pat now, I do have to warn you that almost all of my knowledge has come from trial and error. What I mean by this is: what works for me, may not be best for you. If you do try some of my tips, please keep this in mind!
My Breakfast Guidelines
- Most of my breakfasts are around the 500-600 calorie mark, and although I don’t count calories, I’ve found that I feel my best on court if I have a healthy well rounded breakfast that is in this range. More than this will send me into the lethargic stage, whereas less than this will leave me hungry by the time I am getting on court.
- Some exceptions: When I am extremely nervous (usually before races, which are also early in the morning), or before a really big match, I don’t eat as much, and try to listen to my body. I find that the adrenaline compensates for the under eating, and that I actually perform better on a slightly empty stomach under these circumstances.
What are some typical pre-match/pre-race breakfasts?
- Greek yogurt with PB/AB and a banana (or half a banana)
- Greek yogurt with protein powder + almond butter and a couple bites of banana
- Oatmeal with peanut butter and preferably a banana as well
- And, if I can’t find oatmeal or Greek yogurt, I can do a whole wheat bagel or toast with PB or AB and a banana.
Breakfast Foods I Avoid
- Eggs and omelettes. I find that if they’re not cooked properly, they can sit funnily in your stomach. Also, I don’t crave salty things in the morning. If I have an evening or afternoon match I can eat eggs a few hours before, but if it’s a morning match, I try to stay away from them.
- Pancakes and french toast. When I was in high school, I was famous (well, not famous, but it was a trend) for getting a large crepe from DeDutch, French toast, or chocolate chip pancakes (with whipped cream!) before matches. And you know what? It worked just fine for the most part. I don’t know if it’s because “ignorance is bliss” or because my body actually can’t function at the same level with those foods in my stomach, but I don’t touch them before matches anymore. They are too heavy, and sit in my stomach making me feel lethargic. I don’t even eat them before training sessions (mostly because I like to train how I compete), and try to leave these special indulgences for off-days, or as a post-tournament/race treat.
I like to keep it simple, have a sandwich or substantial salad. My body is pretty good at telling me if it “needs” a sandwich, which usually happens in between tough training sessions, when it’s craving carbs.
My Lunch Guidelines
- Nothing fried or greasy.
- No red meat (it takes too long to digest)
- Must have some lean protein (fish/chicken/turkey, or beans)
- Vegetables (they also help re-hydrate you!)
- Keep it on the lighter side (around 500-600 calories for a healthy meal)
I am much more flexible when it comes to dinner, and I don’t have to do the boring” grilled chicken and vegetables” route. I actually like having Indian food, Mexican food, or something even more exotic, just as long as it’s not greasy.
Of course, I make sure it fits the “eat clean” bill, but I don’t worry about straying from red meat or any other specific foods.
Do you eat any differently during competitions?
What are some of your favourite pre-race/match foods?