I shoot 2-3 matches a month. Most of those are 3 Gun matches with the occasional USPSA or PRS match thrown in for some variety. Typically a match starts around 8:30am with the match briefing and the first shots are fired at 9:00am. Very often I shoot my last stage around 4:00pm. There may be some slight variance depending on the particular match or level of awesome your fellow shooters may have, but you can expect to spend 5-8 hours on the range and most of that on your feet resetting and then shooting. During those 5-8 hours I very rarely see anyone eating quality food. Its like everyone decided that match day is the day they are going to try an 8 hour fast or a Monster only diet. So, some good to know info about fueling the brain and a little about fueling your rippling muscles…
Your brain is about 2% of your body mass but devours roughly 20% of your daily caloric intake. Your brain likes a steady supply of glucose, mostly supplied from recently eaten carbohydrates…(fruits, veggies, starches, etc.) Your brain will turn to alternate fuel sources but only in extreme instances of nutritional deprivation. The brain’s processing center, the frontal cortex, is first in line to feel the effects of depleted glucose levels in the blood. The body does this to keep necessary functions like regulation of body temp or respiratory rate constant. So to review… your cognitive ability is the very first thing to suffer when you become nutrient deficient. The same cognition that you will be using to execute the fundamentals as quickly as possible in an attempt to best everyone in this contest.
In order to keep a steady supply of glucose (brain fuel) on board you need to eat foods that will digest somewhat slowly while delivering quality carbohydrates. Think low glycemic index. The glycemic index ranks foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Pretzels are high on the index, because they cause blood sugar to rise very quickly. Raw carrots, by comparison, have a low glycemic ranking. Fruits and veggies are an awesome all day food source. Buy a veggie tray, dump it in a small cooler and presto you have a constant fueling station for your day on the range. Add some quality fats in the form of nuts and seeds, maybe some olives and your even better off. Drink water throughout the day. Staying hydrated helps an infinite number of systems in your body operate at peak performance levels.
Things to avoid… foods with a high glycemic index. Soda, energy drinks, chips, and your favorite sugary snack will digest very quickly and release glucose into the blood at a rapid rate. This seems like a good thing until you understand that extreme glucose levels in the blood cause more harm than good. Our body reacts by unleashing insulin into the blood to handle the excess glucose. Insulin is very good at its job and doesn’t know when to stop. Insulin will crush all the glucose it can leaving you with little to support all your systems. This process happens pretty fast and is commonly referred to as the “sugar crash”. During the crash you are back at a glucose deficit resulting in difficulty in cognitive ability. Confused thinking, forgetfulness and slowed reaction are all associated with the sugar crash.
Here is what is in my cooler on a typical match day.
- 4-6 lettuce wraps with deli mustard, meat and cheese of choice (eat one after every stage)
- Small veggie tray with baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower (Just dump it in the cooler)
- a couple of pieces of fruit
- 6 medium-sized water bottles
I also take a healthy sized thermos of coffee. (retired NCO status)
Fueling is part of preparation the same way range drills weapons maintenance or ammo is. If you neglect to plan accordingly you may be starting at a deficit. Post match, you deserve an Alaskan Sunset Roll!!