Contributed by SAFRA

singapore biathlon nutrition

Biathletes taking part in a previous edition of the Singapore Biathlon. (Photo courtesy of SAFRA)

The Singapore Biathlon 2012 is just days away and as you enter the final leg of your preparations for the race, it is time to cut back on your training and start watching your nutritional intake to maintain your desired body weight and stock up enough fuel for your body to deliver your peak performance on event day.

Carbohydrates are stored in the form of glycogen within your liver and muscles and this will be the main source of fuel during your race. Therefore, to optimise your glycogen stores, you need to consume meals which are high in carbohydrates two days before the race. About 7g to 12g of carbohydrates per kilogram of your body weight is recommended.

Do not gorge yourself with food. As you ease or stop your training in the last few days, your body will also expend less energy and overeating may result in weight increase. Remember that you also have to allow adequate time for food to digest. A good gauge would be 3-4 hours for a large meal; 2-3 hours for a smaller meal; 1-2 hours for blended or liquid meals.

Some examples of pre-race foods include:
— Cereal with fruits and milk, and two slices of toast,
— Yogurt, muffin and fruits,
— Pasta with tomato sauce
— Soup or sandwich with lean meat and milk.

After the race, your body would probably be significantly depleted so it is important to replenish your glycogen stores by consuming fruits, bread or energy replacement drinks every 15 minutes for the next few hours to enhance the process of energy restoration. This is the time where the glycogen-making enzymes within your body are most active and will rapidly replace the depleted glycogen stores. Some proteins can also enhance glycogen replacement in the initial hours after the race. Hence, a diet rich in both protein and carbohydrates (e.g. milk with cereal) works well to maximise your recovery.

Your body works best when you are adequately hydrated. Drink regularly on the day before the race and if you have to go to the washroom every few hours, that is perfectly fine. On the morning of the race, consume about 200 to 600ml of fluid and drink small amounts of fluid regularly at various waterpoints during the race. Do not wait till you are thirsty or dehydrated before you drink.

After the race, drink plenty of fluids with the first 4-6 hours. 150 percent of what you have lost during the race is recommended. Some athletes use a weighing scale to ascertain the amount of fluid loss. The additional 50 percent takes into account the additional amount of fluid required to replenish ongoing losses through sweat and urine in the hours after the race. Sports drinks, oral rehydration solutions and salty foods can also help with sodium replacement within your body.