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Dietary Habits for Ultimate Tournaments

As developed over the years, through a combination of trial-and-error, professional advice, and scientific literature...
 
For a typical 2-day, weekend tournament, and assuming your goals are to play your best ultimate all weekend, and peak on Sunday afternoon.
 
Monday/Tuesday: Protein Loading

Why: Body cycles protein slower than other food constituents. Protein loading allows storage of long-term energy.
What to Eat: 3/4 meals per day, with at least one meal being primarily a main protein source (meat, eggs, tofu). Better if two meals focus on protein. Avoiding fat is nice, but no more necessary than any other day. Omelette for breakfast, chicken or fish for dinner will do it, as long as everything else is balanced.

When this will help: Throughout the weekend, but primarily after burning through daily reserves. Think "second-wind" on Saturday/Sunday afternoon."


Wednesday/Thursday: Vitamin Loading

Why: Body processes require vitamins to function. These cycle more quickly than protein, but can still be stockpiled during the week.

What to Eat: At least one large, complex salad each day. Focus here is on eating balanced meals that will allow intake of excess vitamins and minerals. Drink a smoothie. Balance the other food groups, make sure you get some protein (especially because you will likely be recovering from a practice or workout on 3-4 of these days). Steam, don't boil, your vegetables...and drink the juice. A Vit C pill isn't a bad idea. Garlic is amazing.

When this will help: Any injury or illness you pick up over the weekend needs to be fought off quickly, which your body is fully able to do given the right materials. Saturday night you body will heal as fast as you allow it to through what you eat on these days.
 
 
Thursday Night/Friday: Carbo Loading

Why: The levels of enzymes that use carbohydrates to make energy can be raised by intaking large carbohydrate meals, and this will also store energy in the short term in sugar form.

What to Eat: At least one full meal of a carbohydrate like bread, pasta, or rice. The more "hippie" it is, the better, meaning go for whole-grain instead of bleached white. Keep balanced meals. Get more fluids to help digest (and to hydrate). Keep hydrated, but DO NOT drink gallons and gallons of water solely. This throws your mineral/water balance out of whack just as much as losing all of your water. Actually, pounding salt-water mixes helped a former team of mine. Hyperhydration is a serious threat in hot temperatures: it manifests as the same symptoms as dehydration (cause the same water/mineral imbalance is happening) or as heat exhaustion except without the raised body temperature.

When this will help: Your maximum stored energy will be on Saturday, and this might give you an extra boost in terms of energy usage.


Saturday Morning: Pre-Game Meal
 
Why: You are about to play 4 games. You must have fuel.
 
What to Eat: A mix of carbohydrates, simple sugars, and protein. Fruits/vegetables will help keep mineral levels high, but right now you are mostly concerned with energy for the day. Pancakes/waffles make for good carbohydrate energy. Do not neglect protein, though- fats and proteins make for longer energy throughout the day. No sense in crashing after game #1. This is why Sausage Mcmuffiins and the like are more than just a humorous choice- they actually give a pretty good spread of carbs, protein, and fat. Those with "weak" stomachs will want to eat at least an hour before you hit the field to allow digestion and give blood that localizes to the stomach time to spread back out. This requires, of course, that you get up earlier.
 
 
On-Field Meals: Recovery and Fueling
 
On the field, you need a mix of fluids and food. Quick energy like "Goo" is great when you have to have it now, but if you can,
try to eat immediately following games, to maximize digestion. Drink sports drinks or something similar to keep water/mineral levels high. Get some protein: sausage or Clif Bars are good for fat/protein intake. A head of lettuce (green) is basically like eating a cup of water with a vitamin pill in it. Pickles, a tried and true favorite, are great for salt (minerals) and for vitamins from the vegetable. Drink more. Do not allow yourself to EVER feel hungry on the field. Hunger will lead to your body pulling resources back for safety, leading to lowered energy availability. Eat before you are hungry.
 
 
Saturday Night Meal: Recovery Mode
 
One day down, one to go. You need to heal all the damage you have done and maximize your chances of waking up Sunday feeling good. Eat soon after playing. Cagging at the field is fun, but you have a 90-minute "glycogen window" after exercise in which to replace sugars, or else the body will start to break itself down to feed metabolism. If dinner is going to take a while, eat something right then, to stave off the breakdown. Eat a balanced meal. You need some of everything to maximize your
recovery: minerals, vitamins, protein, carbs. A big plate of Mexican food gives a great mix of resources. Indian food is good. Saltworks II is optimum. Drink water and sports drinks.
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