Precompetition Meals

What should I eat before a game?  That is one of the most popular questions I get from athletes.  When you’re planning a pre-workout meal, you will want to take the following into consideration:

  • Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source.
    • They are broken down rapidly.
    • Some of the extra carbohydrates are stored in the muscle as glycogen.  These reserves provide your body with the energy you need throughout the competition.
  • Protein is harder for your body to digest.
    • Protein increases your fluid needs and can impair performance in the heat.
  • Fat is hard to digest and can stay in your stomach for over 4 hours.

Therefore, a precompetition meal should be high in carbohydrates, low to moderate in protein and low in fat.  Some examples of good precompetition meals include the following:

  • Turkey Sandwich with pretzels, fruit and low-fat yogurt
  • Spaghetti with a slice of bread and skim milk
  • Bagel with low-fat cream cheese and juice
  • Thick crust pizza with Gatorade (avoid the high-fat toppings like pepperoni)
  • Baked potato with chili and milk

It is best to experiment with new foods on practice days and go with the meals you know work on game days.  Everyone tolerates foods differently…you must know your body and know what works for you!  Keeping food journals can be a good way to track which meals work and which don’t.