Managing Energy Before, During and After a High-Intensity Sport Competition


You've taken the plunge and committed to participating in a monumental sporting event, and next comes the hard part!You must train and prepare your body to operate at its optimal ability. What does that entail? A lot of dedication, that's for sure! You can have the best training, the best coaching and the best technique, but unless you are fueling that body of yours with the proper nutrition, all your hard work could be for nothing. There are certain diets that are geared exclusively towards preparing the body for endurance, strength andagility. We will explore the avenues to a proper diet before the big event, how to maintain energy during the event, and how to recover properly after. The American College of Sports Medicine verifies that, "Adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximize exercise performance, and improve recovery time."

There is actually a science that has been developed exclusively for managing energy during high intensity sport competitions. As a great example, we will focus on preparing for a martial arts competition or fight. 

How to Properly Eat Before Your Big Fight

You will want your body to be prepared for the big event from weeks before with great nutrition. Great nutrition varies for everyone according to dietary restrictions, but there are definitely guidelines to follow.

  • Cut out ALL the junk and pretend foods.Candy, cookies, sodas, junk food, fast food and alcohol will hamper your progress. They're toxic, and make your body workharder to digest, process and operate in general. They stores as fat, and actually do nothing beneficial for your body. Pretend health foods are oftenlabeled as low fat, fat free, low carb, gluten free, high fiber, organic,and whole grain. But guess what? They are loaded with sugar and artificial additives, color and flavoring. Cut it all out. Replace them with fruits and veggies.
  • The vast majority of athletes remove wheat, milk and fruit juice from their diets and replace them with better choices. Why? Studies show wheat polypeptides bind to the brain's morphine receptor, giving cravings, desires to overeat, and they disrupt your natural appetite signaling mechanisms. Replace your breads, cereals, and pastas with choices of carbs such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, oatmeal, buckwheat, and starchy vegetables. Replace dairy milk with unsweetened almond, coconut, or cashew milk. In summary, it's all around just better for you.
  • Find good protein sources. Some prefer lean meats, other choose more plant based diets. Whatever your personal preference, consume protein regularly throughout the day.American College of Sports Medicine recommends 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes. However, about two hours before the fight you should fuel up. You'll want to keep it light, with the goal being easy digestion, yet sustainability for endurance.
  • Hydrate. Water and coconut water are both great sources.
  • Choose healthy carbohydrates. For example: whole-grain cereals, whole-wheat toast, low-fat or fat-free yogurt, whole grain pasta, brown rice, or fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid saturated fats and too much protein, even the healthy sources. These types of foods digest slowly in your stomach and will take away oxygen and energy-delivering blood from your muscles. They are great as part of your regular diet, just avoid them prior to your big event. We are going for the easily digestible carbohydrates to avoid feeling sluggish.

How to Manage Energy During Your Big Fight

A good rule of thumb: It is not necessary to eat during a workout that's an hour or less. But, for a longer, high intensity vigorous fight with rounds, it is recommended to eat 50-100 calories every half hour of carbohydrates such as low-fat yogurt, raisins, oranges or a banana. Small frequent sips of water are suggested regardless of the duration or intensity. However, it is notable to say that it is rare to see fighters using this option during a match.

How to Recover After Your Fight and Avoid a Crash

Most crucial to your health after a huge outpour of energy and stamina is therecovery procedure.Protein, a major element in the recovery process, is essential. And there is a window of time that your body needs the fuel, or you start to injure and deplete valuable resources from within. Usually within 20-60 minutes from ceasing a high intensity workout, your body enters recovery mode. It is within this time frame that you want to intake exactly what the body needs to replenish and recover. It's at this point that you may want to reach for an enriched protein shake. It's quick, filling, light, and has all the protein your body needs at this time as well as fluids, essential vitamins, minerals and electrolytes.

  • Fluids. Drink plenty of water and it's suggested to blend it with an all natural juice to provide an additional source of carbohydrates along with the hydration.
  • Carbohydrates. You will burn a lot of carbohydrates during your fight. This is the main fuel for your muscles! Restore the balance.
  • Protein. Eat things with protein to help repair and grow your muscles.

Maintaining A Healthy Nutrition ALWAYS!

In all actuality, you should eat healthy all the time! Not just when preparing for a fight. As an athlete, nutrition should be part of your daily lifestyle and it's just as important as your training. From an article title "Food for energy", Conor McGregor discusses the diet that keeps him at the top of the fight game. He says "I don't eat takeaways"(carry out and fast food), I drink mostly water or coconut water. It's important to stay hydrated — first thing I do in the morning is stretch and drink water. I eat good meat — chicken, salmon, some steak — and a lot of quality greens and some fruits like bananas. I eat eggs — an omelette with my Americano for a late breakfast or brunch. I don't eat a lot of carbs — if I do it's something like sweet potatoes" 

Your body is the key to giving you the energy and strength you need to participate in a high intensity sports event or competition. Along with the proper training comes the proper diet. To ensure you out last your opponent and have your endurance operating at its maximum strength, make sure to give your body what it needs before, during and after your fight, competition or any sporting event you may be participating in. Do not forget to stay well hydrated before the sporting event, and drink plenty of fluid during and after to balance fluid losses. Good luck and prepare yourself for the win!

Example of a Fighter's Meal Plan

Before the Fight
Day of the Fight
Recovery Time
Wake up
Protein shake
​Wake up
protein Shake
​After fight
A full meal with carbs, protein and veggies of your choice!
large bowl of oatmeal skimmed milk + 2 tsp sugar
3 egg whites + 1 egg yolk scrambled
orange juice + 1 tbsp flaxseed oil

oatmeal with skimmed milk + 2 tbsp sugar
2 slices whole wheat bread + low fat butter + jam
drink light on the water

​Burrito or Burrito Bowl: Made with rice, beans, vegetables, and a protein.
Sandwich: Made with a protein (chicken breast, sirloin, or tofu) and lettuce/tomato.

If you don't have the time to get a meal after the fight get a snack contains carbohydrates and protein.
​Mid-morning snack
chicken breast
2 slices of oatmeal bread
large banana
​Mid-morning snack
chicken breast + salt
1 medium potato
tuna with natural yogurt to bind it together
2 slices whole wheat bread with olive oil-based spread
A tbsp sunflower seeds
mixed in a salad
fish (cod / haddock / plaice) + salt
Brown or jasmine rice + tbsp sweetcorn

​pretzel chips with hummus
peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich
tow-fat greek yogurt with honey
tuna with saltines
chocolate milk
whey protein shake with a banana
protein bar
Mid-afternoon snack
Meal Replacement Shake
Mid-afternoon snack
Cottage cheese
6 oatmeal pancakes

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