Endurance sports can be grueling and extremely taxing on the human body. Whether you're competing in a 5k for charity or competing for your local school, the right nutrition knowledge can provide a competitive edge.

Let's look at 5 tips for maintaining optimal performance before and after the competition is over!

Hydration

One of the more common mistakes regarding hydration is to only start hydrating the day of the event. The best advice we can offer is to start a day before the event, but don't go overboard. It is possible to over-hydrate. This combined with the loss of salt through sweating could lead to uncomfortable cramping, something no one enjoys! If you find yourself over-hydrated, you can always consume salt before the event or bring salt tablets along for during the event.

Limit Sugar Intake

Although a sugar high may feel like an energizing experience, it's short lived. Not only are they short lived but they cause you to burn through your carbohydrates even faster, leading to a sugar crash that no endurance athlete likes to experience. Avoid sugar-filled drinks, foods and even some fruits when you're prepping for the long-haul.

Load the Carbs

This isn't exactly a trade secret, but it still remains important! Carbohydrates are important for keeping blood sugar levels steady over time. Low blood sugar hypoglycemia can cause some pretty terrible symptoms including fatigue, dizziness and overall confusion.

Low fat, high carb foods such as apples, bananas, nuts, beans and whole grains as your last meal should help maximize your energy for the long-winded event you're facing!

Timing

What you eat is important, but so is WHEN you eat. Think back to a time that you might have overdone it before a race or an event, how did you feel? If you were bloated and didn't feel at a level of optimal performance, you might have eaten at the wrong time. The key is to eat your large meal the night before with a light snack the morning of the event.

Refuel Post-Event

As important as your preparation is, how you recharge in the hour after can be the difference between a quick or slow recovery. One of the easiest ways to speed up this process is through protein intake.

Smart for Life recommends intake of at least 20 grams of protein within an hour of completing your endurance event. Packing 20 grams of protein, our on-sale Caramel Almond Protein Bars are an excellent choice for when refeuling is all that's on your mind. Remember to drink plenty of fluids and stretch as well to help your body recover from the significant impact an endurance workout can have on your body.