Pre-Event Nutritional Strategies

The following guidelines must be considered when planning your pre-event meal:

  • Be taken 1-4 hours before depending on personal preferences, experience and event intensity, length and starting time. The closer the meal to the event, the smaller the meal.
  • 200-300 grams of carbohydrate for meals 3-4 hours before exercise have been shown to enhance performance
  • Include fluids (400-600 ml)
  • Low in fat and fibre to help stomach and intestine emptying and minimise gut upsets
  • Be familiar foods
  • High in carbohydrate to maintain blood glucose and maximise muscle and liver glycogen stores
  • Be moderate in protein
  • Know what works and doesn’t work for you and practice the planned strategy before the major goal.

Examples of pre-event meals might include:

  • Cereal with low-fat milk and fruit
  • Bread, toast, muffins or crumpets with jam, honey or banana
  • Pancakes with honey, jam or syrup
  • Pasta or rice with low-fat topping
  • Rice cakes or bread rolls with banana
  • Sports bars
  • Commercial liquid meal supplement
  • Creamed rice
  • Fruit salad and yoghurt

In the 1-3 days leading up to the event, the following pre-event tips are suggested in order to maximise the levels of carbohydrates within muscle and liver:

  • Increase carbohydrate intake three days out
  • Spread the intake of carbohydrate foods and drinks over smaller and more frequent meals or snacks
  • Reduce fat and protein intake to leave more room for the carbohydrates
  • Increase fluid intake as carbohydrate need water to be stored
  • Avoid alcohol in the 24-48 hours leading up to the event