Nutrition for the Competitive Athlete

Athletes running

Are you a Competitive Athlete?


Keep Well-Hydrated

Accompany pre- or post-workout meals with water or other fluids. All athletes need to ensure they are drinking enough fluids throughout their workout. Water is the number one choice, but if you are looking for some extra energy add some fruit juice or sport drink crystals to your water.

Most competitive athletes train between four to six days a week. If you are a competitive athlete, including rice into your pre- and post-workout meals will give you an athletic advantage by providing long-lasting energy and an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals to maximize your personal performance.

Rice is an ideal addition to any meal as it is virtually fat-free, sodium-free (based on ½ cup serving), low allergen, naturally gluten-free and easily digested. It packs in more carbohydrates than potatoes for the same serving size, so if you are looking for that extra carbohydrate blast for your muscles, power up your plate with more rice than potato-based dishes.

Incorporating rice into pre- and post-workout snacks and meals will ensure that you are optimizing your body’s ability to recover and rebuild.

Pre-Workout Meal Suggestions

Boost Performance and Keep Injury Free

Competitive athletes require:

  1. Carbohydrate-rich foods pre-workout, during and post-workout to help fight off the fatigue that comes with low muscle glycogen
  2. Extra fluids to cover sweat losses
  • As training volume and intensities increase, more energy is required and the need for more carbohydrate-rich foods i.e., rice, grains, bread, cereals, legumes, vegetables and fruits also increases.
  • Pay attention to the timing of meals and snacks.
  • Pre-planning meals helps ensure healthy foods will be available when you are hungry. Rice is easy to store and cook with no peeling or chopping required.
  • Large meals should be consumed three to four hours before training to ensure that they are digested and you are ready to perform. However, life can get busy so if you do not have time to eat a meal, supplement with a rice-based snack one to two hours before your workout.
  • For training sessions lasting more than 60 minutes, eating a small snack 15 to 30 minutes beforehand is a good idea to ensure that you are topped-up and ready to go!
  • Combine carbohydrate-rich foods with protein.
  • Combine carbohydrate-rich foods with small amounts of protein during meals and snacks to ensure that your muscles are well fuelled and that you feel satisfied.


The following foods are chock-full of carbohydrates:

  • Rice and rice-based dishes
  • Grains and cereals (pasta, bread, oatmeal, cereal)
  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Legumes (chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans)
  • Milk and yogurt

Plan your pre-workout nutrition program using the suggestions below:

Post Workout Meal Suggestions

When to eat and what to eat post-workout depends on the length and intensity of the exercise session (i.e., whether muscle glycogen depletion occurred), and when the next intense workout will occur. Rice, as part of a carbohydrate-rich post workout meal, ensures that your muscles are re-stocked with glycogen (muscle energy).

Taking in carbohydrate-rich foods, such as rice along with fluids within 30 minutes after exercise is important. Athletes who have one or two rest days in between intense training sessions must remember to eat sufficient carbohydrate-rich foods during the 24-hour period BEFORE their next training session to be sufficiently refueled and ready to go!

Add the following protein-rich foods to your rice-based dishes to ensure that your muscles are able to repair and recover from each training session:

  • Eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese
  • Hummus dip, more bean than meat-based chili with rice
  • Lean cuts of meat, poultry or fish
  • Nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew, sesame)

Eat a snack or small meal rich in carbohydrates within an hour or two of finishing your workouts. This is a great time to consume sweet foods, as the sweetness indicates a greater amount of carbohydrates and thus faster recovery. Then make sure to follow up with a larger meal within the next three to four hours.


Keep Injury Free with Carbohydrates

Muscles with low muscle glycogen stores are primed for fatigue – they lose their strength and thus their ability to protect the joints from injury. By keeping both blood sugar and muscle glycogen stores topped up there is a decreased risk of injury. This means eating carbohydrate-rich foods pre-workout, during and post-workout to help fight off the fatigue that comes with low muscle glycogen.

Plan your pre-workout nutrition program using the suggestions below:

With water, milk or vegetable or fruit juice.

Written by the team of Registered Dietitians and Sport Nutrition Specialists of Peak Performance