Comp-Day Food Planning

Juggle your food right for best performance.

OK, you’ve just done your first day of climbing. Hours of iso and multiple rounds of climbing have left you exhausted and nutritionally depleted. But it’s time to think about day two, which means you need to fuel and hydrate like a pro in order to do your best. You need a comp-day plan.

Eating a good meal at the end of your last climbing session is one of the single most important factors in setting you up for proper recovery to climb hard the next day. Aim for two things: to have a well-balanced meal and to re-hydrate throughout the evening by drinking water or a sports drink, about eight ounces every hour. Watch your urine color—it should look light yellow. If it is too dark or concentrated, drink water with electrolytes in it or a sports drink.

Try to eat within an hour or two of climbing, and be sure to include protein, fat and carbohydrates in your meal. This balance provides your body with a variety of nutrients to help start the recovery process: repairing muscle and restoring used-up glycogen. A good meal will refuel you for the next day of competition.

Some great, tasty examples include:

• Power-grain bowl: Quinoa, chicken, black beans, shredded cheese and salsa. Pair with a piece of fruit and chocolate milk.

• Turkey sandwich with cheese and avocado. Pair with carrots and hummus for a quick and easy meal. 

• Veggie omelet and avocado toast. Pair with chocolate milk.

• Pasta with tofu and veggies.

• Fruit-and-yogurt smoothie with a PB&J sandwich.

• Beef chili with cornbread and green salad.

• Veggie wrap with tofu. Pair with a fruit salad.

Eating a balanced meal does a few great things for your body. It helps replenish glycogen, which is a storage form of sugar that is used up during exercise. Restoring glycogen can help set you up for some great climbing during the subsequent days of your comp. The protein in your post-comp meal helps rebuild and repair muscle tissue. Aim for about 20-30 grams of protein: the equivalent of a large chicken breast, three eggs, one scoop of protein powder, or 16 ounces of milk or chocolate milk paired with a ham sandwich. The fat in the meal provides satisfaction, and it is a valuable macronutrient essential for optimal body functioning.

Easy nutrition tips for comps:



Train with the food you’re going to bring on comp day. For example, during your usual training sessions at the gym, eat pretzels and sip sports drinks to see how you feel. If the combination energizes you and settles well in your stomach, bring it to comps.



Know when you are going to compete, how many rounds you are doing, and how long you’ll be in iso. You can plan snacks and meals around climbing times, making sure to leave plenty of time to digest.



Never eat anything new on comp day! You never know what comp-day nerves mixed with new food might do. The last thing you want is stomach cramping, nausea or diarrhea during a comp.



Bring non-perishable snacks in your gym bag. Trail mix, pretzels, sports gummies, bagels, protein bars and bananas are all great.



Bring more food than you think you’ll need. When hunger strikes (for you or your teammates), you’ll be prepared.

If you’re planning on buying food at the comp, check the venue beforehand to see what’s available. Make to have you have something you know you like that will settle well in your stomach. Bring your own backup food in case the venue offerings don’t pan out.

Bring a refillable water bottle so you can keep hydrated all day long.

Comp day should be a fun time where all your hard training and other prep pay off. Not eating right can lead to missed clips, falls on dynos, and early fatigue. Give yourself every chance by fueling up and hydrating well. You’ll be glad you did.


Originally published in the fifth issue of Gym Climber


Also Read

Eat Carbs and Climb Harder

  • Marisa Michael is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in sports nutrition. She owns a private practice, Real Nutrition, LLC, in Portland, Oregon, USA. Marisa helps athletes and active people achieve better health and performance through nutrition. Marisa has an undergraduate degree in Dietetics from Brigham Young University, and a master’s degree in sports nutrition from the University of Stirling. She is a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor. She holds the International Olympic Committee’s Diploma in Sports Nutrition and is a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She firmly believes that relationships with food and body play a huge role in mental and physical health, and applies that in her own life by thoroughly enjoying ice cream and chocolate on a regular basis. Find her on Instagram @realnutritiondietitian Find her on Facebook @realnutritionllcFind her online at

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