By now everyone recommends eating at least 5 meals a day:
For the midday meal it is considered more advantageous to propose an easily digestible “single dish”.
In this way, after the afternoon rest, the athlete will be ready to train again in the best “recharging” conditions of the tissue deposits of glycogen and high energy molecules (adenosine triphosphate and phosphocreatine), without however having too busy digestive processes.
After the afternoon training, the athlete should consume a small snack, mainly liquid, with a good energy content (energy of exclusive carbohydrate origin, oligo, and polysaccharides) and rich in minerals, to replenish hydro saline losses in a short time and balance with food alkaline the tendency to acidosis produced by muscle fatigue.
The evening meal, therefore, represents, for the athlete on training days of the competitive period, the most important meal of the day, from a quantitative point of view.
In fact, without excesses and in the context of a well-balanced daily caloric ration, dinner will be on average abundant, rich, and varied in choices, as the athlete will use evening and night rest (at least 9 – 10 hours) for digestive processes and metabolic.
As regards the formulation of the evening meal menu more closely, I propose soups with vegetables and/or legumes as a first course to further promote the rebalancing of hydro-saline losses and to ensure a further supply of starches (potatoes, rice, croutons of bread).
Among the dishes the athlete will be able to choose different protein sources as he likes, without neglecting the fish (at least 2-3 times a week) and legumes, accompanying them with side dishes of fresh and/or cooked vegetables.
Remember that at least 5 meals a day are offered, as this avoids a fasting period of more than 4-5 hours, which would have a catabolic effect. But in night sleep we have at least 8-9 hours of fasting! This is remedied by favoring protein-rich foods.
For example, a dish like broth, the classic one made from beef, introduced in the evening, leads to an increase in the protein mass of the subject, since it prevents catabolism; this is because in the broth there is such a high amount of amino acids, that in the first hours of sleep, they help the production of GH, growth hormone, which is already high in those hours.
The day of the race
The most important nutritional problem is represented by the need to ensure optimal hydration of the body and to provide the athlete with a sufficient amount of energy, well distributed throughout the day, without digestive disorders occurring while avoiding a sense of hunger or weakness.
The athlete must be nourished in an adequate and valid way, without an excessive commitment to the gastro-enteric apparatus, often already intensely stimulated by pre-competition anxiety.
The intake of starches must be sufficiently high, even up to 65-70% of the total daily energy, however, avoiding ingesting them in the three hours preceding the meeting and always taking care not to make the muscle fibers too heavy with water.
Seasoned foods and those that develop gas should be avoided on the day of the game, as well as meat and fats that have long digestion times and that consumed in the three to four hours before the game can cause an annoying feeling of heaviness.
If the race time is in the early hours of the afternoon (15.00) it is recommended to have a rather abundant and rich breakfast between 7.00 and 8.00 in the morning and to have lunch between 11.30 and 12.00.
The midday meal will consist of a good first course followed by fresh fruit and dessert, after which, in the hours preceding the game, simply sip a “waiting” drink.
When the race starts later (5.00 pm) then lunch can be a little more complete and balanced, always favoring the carbohydrate intake.
In the case of an evening or night competition, a light snack will follow the midday meal with a good supply of liquids (tea and/or fruit juice) and glycides (baked desserts, oat flakes, rusks with jam).
After the race and more generally after every muscular effort, the athlete should avoid solid foods for at least a couple of hours, limiting himself in this period of time to replenish the water and mineral heritage.
So the athlete should sip specially prepared water and drinks, or use commercial preparations.
Among these, common fruit juices should not be forgotten, preferring those without added sugar, suitably diluted with water. Milk can be offered as a viable alternative in the first hours after the game, also in the form of smoothies.