Eating For Winners – Part One: Pre-Competition

Here is something you’ll undoubtedly hear all the time……."If you aren’t eating correctly, there’s no point in training!”

Now whilst I’m not quite inclined to agree with this it does carry some merit, especially if we look at the benefits of correct nutrition, PRE, DURING and POST exercise.

The benefits of eating in the right ways include:

1) Greater fat loss

3) Greater mental clarity

4) Greater physical performance

2) Greater rate of recovery (Think muscle growth!)



For athletes competing in the mornings, the PRE-COMPETITION meal takes on a greater significance. The overnight fast whilst asleep has depleted a lot of your stored carbs.

You gotta break the FAST, refuel the body with CARBS and RE-HYDRATE  the body.

It takes 3-4 hours to digest, absorb and most importantly, STORE energy in your muscles.


Stick to eating carbs and lean protein BECAUSE:

1) Carbs digest and absorb into the body faster than anything else

2) Carbs are the main energy source for high intensity aerobic exercise and short-term anaerobic exercise

3) Eating a lot of protein can lead to dehydration as the body needs greater energy and water to digest and get rid of the by-products of protein breakdown

4) Fats and fibre take a lot longer for your body to handle. We want QUICK absorption AND storage of energy to be ready to COMPETE

So get the CARBS in!



As I said above, we need a lot of carbohydrates and we need to leave 3-4 hours to digest, absorb and STORE that energy in your muscles.

So here is your plan for the pre-competition meal:

1. 3-4 hours before competing, eat 150-300g of carbohydrate, or 3-5g per kg of bodyweight.

So if you weigh 75kg you’re gonna eat 150g-300g of carbs OR you can work more specifically and eat anywhere from 225g (which is 75x3) to 375g (which is 75x5) of carbs.

2. Include some LEAN protein, NOT too much, just 20-30g to give your body something to help you recover following the competition.

3. Include LOW amounts of FAT and FIBRE.

Fat and fibre slow down digestion and increase the levels of stress in the digestive system. Before competition it’s quite likely that you will have increased levels of STRESS and TENSION. This increased stress reduces blood flow to the digestive tract, so we gotta be careful and be nice to the digestive system prior to competing!

4. This is NOT an excuse to eat crappy foods.

This pre-competition meal will only give the greatest benefits to you if you eat sensibly the rest of the time too. Don’t think you can have fast foods every night then one healthy meal before a big comp is gonna make you superman! Make it a habit to eat right!

5. NO sugary carbs within 60 mins of your competition. It has been shown that eating lots of sugars before competition makes you perform worse.

This is because lots of sugar causes a rise in insulin levels in the body, causing:

  1. The inhibition of fat as a source of energy, you’re gonna burn less fat.
  2. As fat can’t be used for energy you will burn through your carb stores faster.
  3. As you have burnt all your carbs really quick, you will fatigue faster.

I don’t care what you’ve heard about sweets and sugary drinks before competition helping performance. The facts are they don’t. So stop passing the chewy sweets round the changing room and drinking two pints of some energy drink before every match.

During competition its OK, I’ll explain why next time. But prior to competing its a big NO NO!!


Don’t forget that to get the most out of every workout and training session you should also follow the above plan. Do your best to eat correctly and YOU WILL FEEL THE BENEFITS!!


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Anthony Shaw

Raw Strength