What to Pack in Your Food Cooler for Competition Day
Written by Jean Thorson
It’s finally here. The big event that you have been training hard for. The gym bag is packed with all your shoes, two jump ropes, knee sleeves, lifting belt, tape, extra socks, a couple changes of clothes, towels, mobility gadgets and everything else to prepare you for the gym floor. But what about that food cooler? Is it packed with the essentials to keep you going until the end of that last workout? The last thing you want is to bonk on that last workout that is in your wheelhouse, because of the lack of fuel to get you through it.
When preparing for a long day at an event, the key is keeping it simple and quick to consume. Focusing on hydration, carbohydrates and proteins. Depending on the schedule of events, you want to be prepared for quick consumption that is easily digested. This would be the time to have a protein/carb shake ready to go or maybe some fruit, juices, coconut water and baby food pouches. If you have a larger break of 2-3 hours, have a meal ready that consist of lean meat and carbs that your body is use to eating and you know will digest with no problems. The last thing you want is to bring something that your body will not agree with while doing a heavy squat snatch.
I highly suggest bringing food favorites. If you really don’t like eating broccoli, don’t pack it just because it’s a healthy choice. Bring some white rice or those sweet potatoes with a little honey that you love!
A couple days before the event (rather than the night before):
Freeze 5-6, 12 oz water bottles. They can be used for ice packs in your cooler and also consumed as they melt. And bring a gallon jug of water too. Coconut water and fruit juices are good to have on hand and can be added to pre/post recovery drinks.
Make a Sweet Potato Puree with some honey or grab baby food pouches from the store. (I prefer ones with sweet potatoes, bananas or rice in them).
Grab some fruit (bananas, apples, pineapple, grapes, berries). Wash them and cut them up into small bags.
Grab some veggies if you know you will eat them. Personally, these end up being the last thing I grab for during the day of an event. But if you know you will eat them, pack your favorites.
Protein Powders, use small containers or snack size plastic bags with pre-measured amounts in them. This eliminates the need of packing the oversized tubes.
Boil a dozen eggs and take the shells off. That will make it easier come event day to just grab and eat.
Grill some chicken and dice it up to fit in containers.
For a Meal during the long break – here are a few of my favorites.
Almond Banana Pancakes I make PBnJ sandwiches with the pancakes.
Having some trail mix, nuts and or nut butter are great to have, as well as avocado and bacon. But be aware that they digest slowly. Just keep it to small amounts and consume them during those long breaks. High fiber and fat meals are best for after the event when you are recovering and refueling for the next day.
The big reward at the bottom of the bag:
Sometimes we just need to know that our favorite snack is waiting for us when we are done for the day. A Couple of my favorites: Peanut Butter Protein Balls and The Best Paleo Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies.
A few helpful reminders:
Eat a breakfast 2-3 hours before the event. Do not rely on a large coffee to get you through the morning session. Be fueled and ready to go from the start, it will pay off come mid day. Pack 2-3 shaker bottles – one for pre-workout drinks, one for post-workout drinks and one filled with water.
Baby wipes and paper towels for those hands. Sometimes the bathroom situation isn’t ideal at events. Either not enough or just outhouses.
Utensils and plates.
Small trash bags.
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