- Before - eat a meal 3 to 4 hours before the start, comprised of primarily easy to digest carbohydrates with a low glycemic index . Some low index foods: fructose (a sugar, has an index of 23 out of 100) apples, pears, yogurt, soy beans, kidney beans, skim milk, and peanuts.
- During - consume "sport type drinks" that will replace both electrolytes and carbohydrates. Other easily digested foods may be consumed during prolonged periods of exercise or on those long meet days; look for low to moderate glycemic index foods. Some moderate index foods: lactose (a sugar, has an index of 46 out of 100) popcorn, sweet potatoes, orange, oatmeal cookies, orange juice, apple juice, grapes, and bananas.
- After - some studies show timing is key - begin replenishing within the first 20 minutes. Re-hydrate, using water or more sports drink and replenish fuel stores even further by consuming carbohydrates with a high to moderate glycemic index.
There is also a growing movement to add protein - and perhaps a slight amount of fat (4 parts carbohydrate to 1 part protein, and some incidental fat) to aid recovery. Some high index foods: glucose (glycemic index 100 out of 100) watermelon, pineapple, potatoes, waffles, bagels, bread, jelly beans, rice cakes, honey, soft drinks, and Rice Krispies.
Whatever diet you choose, remember the old saying "you are what you eat" - and if you don't eat like an athlete, you cannot perform like one!