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Nutrition for Competitions: What to Eat Daily, Taper and Leading Up to the Event

Updated: Feb 12

Success in competitions requires thorough preparation. Proper nutrition, often overlooked by athletes, is crucial for optimal performance, especially for young athletes aged 6-18. They need adequate high-quality fuel to support growth and meet the energy demands of their sport.

To help you stay on track, here are some tips and guidelines to follow:

  • The muscles need time to recover and repair, so no decreases in fuel units (calories) are needed within the first seven days of a taper for females and 14 days for most males.

  • It is important not to lose weight during this time.

  • To ensure you're consuming enough fuel, it's critical to eat 5-6 times a day with high-quality protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates every time. Teenage females average 2200-3000 fuel units and teenage males average 2500-4500 fuel units daily. Adults differ pending on many factors.

  • Try to consume at least 20-30g of protein minimally 30 minutes before bed or within 2 hours of dinner if eating late, accompanied by complex carbs, fruit, and healthy fats. If young go with ½ that amount. Muscle Building IQ: Test Your Protein Knowledge

  • Make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day and get enough sodium to maximize recovery and stay properly hydrated. A rule of thumb is to consume half your weight in fluid ounces a day plus 10-20oz of fluids per hour per activity. Athletes need at least 3000mg of sodium a day, and some need more depending on sweat and sodium loss rates.

  • To strengthen your immune system, bump up your Vitamin C intake to 500-1000mg 3-7 days before and 2-3 days after the competition. It is also recommended to add probiotics and Vitamin D3 if not already taking them during this time. Check out the Daily Immune protocol within the DWSNA Academy.

  • Get enough rest and prepare yourself for the big event.

MENU General Guidelines

Sample Menu

To ensure athletes have a healthy fuel intake, it's essential to follow these general guidelines:

  • Aim for a minimum of 1g of fiber per 100 fuel units (calories), achievable through fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

  • Limit saturated fats intake (solid at room temperature) to below 10% a day, with a maximum of 1g per 100 fuel units. Saturated fats are present in fried foods, processed foods, fatty meats, dairy, cheese, baked goods, and sweets.

  • Monitor sugar intake to stay below 30g a day, except around activity. Whole fruit and regular milk are not considered added sugars.

  • Maintain a balance between healthy and enjoyable foods.

  • Use Cronometer, a free app, to track individual nutrients and fuel units effectively. This process should be informative and positive, not restrictive or obsessive.

  • Avoid labeling nutrients as “bad” or “good”; instead, focus on “optimal” versus “limited” nutrients.

General Guidelines

Customizing your fuel:

  • Strive for progress, not perfection, following the 80-20 rule.

  • Seek guidance from a sports medical professional, like a Sports Dietitian (RD, RND, LD, CSSD), for personalized advice.

  • Find your rhythm and set achievable goals, adjusting if needed.

  • Everyone is unique, so consulting a Sports Dietitian for personalization is crucial.

  • If eliminating a food group, consult a Sports Dietitian to ensure nutrient replacement from other sources.


Menut Tips
  • The following menu provides a balanced intake of lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbs, and fruits/vegetables throughout the day.

  • Adaptations can be made within the same food group, such as substituting an apple for an orange or lean ground beef for chicken.

  • If a picky eater, do your best to accommodate their preferences while ensuring nutrient intake.

  • Gradually introduce new foods or supplements to fill nutrient gaps over time.


  • Consistency and balance are key, aiming for a purposeful and mindful approach to eating.

  • Food is fuel for growth and performance, not just a desire.

  • Prioritize health and effective fueling strategies to support athletic activities.


Handout of February Menu in Dawn Weatherwax's Sports Academy

Berry-nana Crunch Delight Compote Cheerios option
Berry-nana Crunch Delight Compote
Berry-nana Crunch Delight Compote

Get ready for a flavor explosion with Cheerios™ latest creation: Blueberry and Banana Compote! It's a fruity fiesta that'll have your taste buds dancing. Here's how you can make it:

INGREDIENTS Makes 4 Servings:

  • 3 cups Original Cheerios™ cereal

  • 1 cup Blueberry & Banana Veggie Blends Cheerios™ cereal

  • 1 cup blueberries

  • 2 lg bananas or 4 small

  • 4-8 tablespoons nuts, seeds, peanuts, chia of choice & finely chopped if preferred

  • 4-8 tablespoons dry cranberries, tart cherries or dried fruits of choice

  • 1 cup skim milk/Goat/Soy milk/Fairlife milk/Orgain or OWYN RTD or Almond/Rice/Oat

  • 2 cups Okios Pro, Triple Zero, Chobani, Chobani Complete, Faga, Kite Hill High Protein Vegan Vanilla or flavor of choice yogurt

DIRECTION for One Serving:

In a microwave safe bowl, combine ¾ cup Cheerios™, ¼ cup Blueberry & Banana Cheerios™ Veggie Blends, 1/4 cup blueberries, half a banana, 1-2 tablespoon of chopped nuts or seeds, 1-2 tablespoon of cranberries or dried fruit and 1/4 cup of skim milk or liquid of choice.

Warm the mix in the microwave for 40 seconds, remove to stir all the ingredients and heat up the mix for an additional 40 seconds, or until the cereal and fruit is soft.

Remove the bowl from the microwave and let the mix rest for a few minutes. Finally, add 1/2 cup of high protein yogurt and serve immediately.

Fueling Youth Sports

Proper nutrition is a critical part of youth

sports. It's essential to understand how much fuel young athletes need, what they should eat, and when. Proper hydration also plays a significant role in their performance and recovery. Join Dawn Weatherwax's Sports Nutrition Academy for comprehensive guidance on building a better student-athlete through nutrition and testing. This will optimize their growth, academic performance, and athletic ability.

 or call 513-779-6444.

The Cheerios™ Team Challenge

The Cheerios™ Team Challenge is a fun and exciting way to promote healthy eating and team bonding. The challenge is simple: You, a DUO or a team must incorporate any Cheerios™ flavor in your meal or snack. The goal is to NOT exceed 12 grams of added sugar within the meal or snack.

Tag and post a pic #cheeriosteamchallenge @sportsnutritiontogo to participate.

Meet the Wonder Woman Behind the Challenge

Get ready to meet Dawn Weatherwax, the wonder woman behind Sports Nutrition 2Go and Dawn Weatherwax's Sports Nutrition Academy. She is the mastermind behind this challenge and she is committed to promoting healthy eating habits among athletes, coaches, parents and everyone else. Don't wait, gather yourself, a DUO or a team and participate in the Cheerios Team Challenge today. Let's get this party started!



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