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START YOUR ENGINES: How Your Eating Habits Affect Your Score

By Nick Bohanan

One of the reasons today’s athletes perform at such high levels is that we’ve made such great strides in understanding exercise and nutrition. Knowing what foods to eat and when to eat them has become as important as physical training because food provides strength and endurance, key elements in virtually every athletic endeavor.

This holds true for bowling as well. The athletes on Team USA follow the basic rules of nutrition. They may not know the science behind it, but they’ve learned by trial and error. They listen to their bodies and they understand what foods make them feel good and strong. Whether you are on Team USA, bowl in regional and national competitions, or simply lace them up once a week in a local league, what and when you eat will impact your performance. In other words, if you want to perform well, then beer frames and French fries are out!

Bad habits are tough to break, but eating too much or eating right before you bowl does not help your game. Eating too close to competition can cause fatigue and indigestion. Your body wants to digest what you’ve eaten, but you’re using all your energy to bowl. The food is just going to sit there, or it’s going to start to digest and get broken down. Your body will have to expend energy to digest the food and the result is that you are going to feel sluggish.

Ideally, you should eat several hours before you bowl. That will allow time for you to digest your food and you will be able to utilize the nutrients and energy that you’ve put into your system. Even if you’re bowling in the morning, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or oatmeal with fruit will supply the proper nutrients to your muscles and your blood.

As you get closer your start time, a little snack such as a protein bar will tide you over. By eating something beforehand, your body won’t have to utilize the stored energy sources as quickly, so you delay the onset of fatigue.

As you are bowling, you want to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or sports drinks throughout your block or league session. Research shows that if you absorb a lot of proteins or carbohydrates while you’re in competition, it will prolong your ability to perform at a high level and will help your body recover quickly.

You want more carbs than protein (ideally a four-to-one ratio), and drinks such as Accelerade and PureSport supply the right amounts. They will help with endurance and strength, and the protein will aid recovery. Plus, when you’re competing it’s usually easier to drink something than to eat something.
Once you’ve finished bowling, it helps to eat something within 30-90 minutes.

Pay attention to your eating habits prior to bowling. Your body, and subsequently your score, will tell you if you’ve made the right decisions.

— Nick Bohanan is United States Bowling Congress Sports Performance Specialist.

Permission granted by USBC/Luby Publishing

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