What To Eat On Meet Day

By: Brian Carroll

“I’ve never done a full meet competition and I’m clueless on what to eat and drink and how to go about it”

In short – you need to make sure you are eating and drinking enough. Here is a brief checklist

  1. Breakfast is important
  2. Sip & drink no matter what all-day
  3. BPJ’s are great snacks
  4. Trail mix covers the macros well
  5. Energy bars
  6. Avoid foods foreign to you
  7. Gas-X and Immodium are good ideas
  8. Grazing is important like sipping
  9. Candy, Honey and fruit snacks are good for energy
  10. Lots of caffeine – as long as you are used to it.

Everyone has their individual necessities and nutritional requirements for competition day. Some of us eat a lot. Some don’t need to eat very much, and some of us eat very clean, some not so much at all. There is no only-1-way formula that is the ONLY way for everyone on comp day, but within reason, most will do well with a general approach that I outline below.

Everyone’s nerves, appetite, and needs vary so much from one person to the next. We all have different preferences in life and really eating on meet day is no different. One thing is for sure – you need enough. Well, what is enough? Good question and I hope you can answer this by applying what I suggest below and finding your happy medium

I have certain things that I like to eat and things that I suggest my clients eat as well but that is going to be very person dependent on their needs and diet they follow as well. Take what you think will work and try it out but don’t try it out for the first time on meet day! I just give you a starting point for what I’ve seen work for many.

Here is something that applies to all: Never experiment and eat new foods or drinks on the meet day because Joe Blow does it or you get curious. Bad move.

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Here are a few suggestions for you to keep in mind for your food, drink, and approach for both. Like everything else, think for yourself and make it your own:

  1. Breakfast – no brainer right? Not really – try to eat something you’d usually eat in the am even if it’s not much – make yourself eat something. An empty stomach and stressful and long day aren’t usually known to be good for anything, much less physical performance.
  2. Sip on drinks all day, even before you start warming up first thing – Pedialyte, Gatorade, and water is always a good mixture. A good way to do this is a combo of all three using the powdered Gatorade and Pedialyte and make it super highly concentrated. If you are sitting down you are sipping on drinks. Also, the whole night before you should be hyper hydrating but this another topic for another day. I make sure I drink a Gatorade or 2 prior to getting under the bar to start the day.
  3. Have Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches handy – quick easy and readily available in about 3 seconds. Peanut Butter and Honey is great too. I love Trader Joe’s natural peanut butter. I also enjoy locally harvested honey. This packs a nice punch of carbs, fat, and protein. Again, we aren’t too much worried about macros this day, you need to stay fed and energized all day as some meets can drag out to be very long. I’ll start eating these during squat warm-ups.
  4. Trail mix – the nuts have fat for energy and the fruit & candy provide simple sugars that not only make you feel good but provide energy. I don’t like eating too many carbs without fats and protein to balance it out. This is just me but remember – We aren’t trying to build muscle here – we are sustaining energy to perform. I also like to eat trail mix during a long training session during the precontest time. I’ll eat this along with my sandwiches.
  5. Granola, oatmeal, cereal, or the bars made up of these sources — eat these often. Power Crunch or Cliff bars are my go-to’s. These are great, add peanut butter, honey, and or jelly to them. This is a quick snack that won’t weigh your stomach down too much but provide energy. I like to alternate between trail mix, BPJ’s and bars all day.
  6. Avoid greasy foods that are not usually included in your diet. NO need to sit on the toilet all day. This is pretty obvious but sometimes people go blank on meet day and totally do everything differently. Think I’m lying? Pay attention to your training partners next comp – it happens pretty often as I’ve done it. Bring a cooler full of the food you are used to. If you’re used to McDonald’s then stay with McDonald’s. Don’t decide to try the spicey Jalapeno burger though!
  7. Make sure you are taking gas x and Immodium regardless This is a lifesaver. Start this the day prior and keep it loaded up. Especially if you were cutting weight and now piling it back on, it’s super easy to get an upset stomach and this is an easy fix.
  8. Graze all day. I don’t care if you’re just forcing it down one small piece at a time. Some lifters will have nerves so bad that they can’t really eat too much. This doesn’t mean that you don’t try to eat. Some will really struggle with this but you can’t wait to eat or drink until you are actually hungry or thirsty. Too late then and likely your results will show the damage.
  9. Candy, natural honey (mentioned above) or fruit. Bananas are great especially to help hold off cramping. “Oh, man candy is bad for you.” Once again, we aren’t looking to have a perfect macro day but fruit snacks are a good choice and can keep you going esp if you’re having a hard time eating. Once again, if you look at the back of a snickers bar vs some of the most popular protein supp bars, you might not see too much of a difference except for fat (some have almost as much sugar). And fat is good on this day – so are calories.
  10. Caffeine can be your best friend on a long day. Again, if you’re not used to consuming much caffeine, now is not the time to experiment. But, if you use it in training as you should, today is the day where you will need it the most. I don’t suggest anyone taking ‘double pre-workout doses’ but today would be the day to make sure you are taking plenty of caffeine all day. If you wait to crash and come down, then you’ve waited too late. Don’t do this. I like to take my pre-workout or caffeine supps early and then sip on energy drinks all day and stay ahead of the curve with no crash.

Keep in mind these are only suggestions and what I have seen work for many athletes. I can’t tell you how much to eat, drink, or take. I can only point you in the correct direction – you have to find how much is just right. Because how much is the right amount? Well, the right amount for you is not too little but at the same time not too much. Let me know what you think!

If you decide to cut weight, you can get my “cutting weight” ebook here. 

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Brian Carroll

Brian is a world-class powerlifter with over two decades of elite and pro-level powerlifting under his belt. Coming back from a devastating back injury in 2012 that broke multiple bones and that most experts said he would never recover from, he has returned to the pinnacle of world-class lifting (while 100% pain and symptom-free) and is now dedicated to helping others avoid the same mistakes that he made in the past through private and group coaching in Jacksonville, FL. Brian’s impressive recovery has given him the opportunity to teach and deliver talks to physical therapists, chiropractors, medical doctors, professional strength & conditioning coaches and experts from all facets of sport, on how to avoid injury, while building anti-fragile strength and resilience in athletes.
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