Game Day Nutrition
Part 1 of 2 – Pre-Game Nutrition
Nutrition is a vital part of any game day preparation. Although each individual will find a slightly different recipe for optimizing their performance, there are a few trusty guidelines that everyone can follow.
The goal of your pre-game nutrition routine is to top up your glycogen stores, maintain a stable blood sugar level, minimize gastro-intestinal distress and maintain an optimal level of hydration.
- What the muscles need most before a game is energy in the form of glycogen. Glycogen is the muscle’s usable form of carbohydrate and the first source of energy used in most types of sports. Although what you have done in the days or weeks leading up to your event has much more to do with your muscle glycogen stores, a proper pregame nutrition plan can help optimize your energy level.
- Maintaining a stable blood sugar level helps keep energy flowing into your muscles for longer periods of time and avoids a late game crash. Eating balanced meals including high quality forms of all 3 macronutrients (carbs, proteins and fats) and nutrient rich veggies will make this goal more easily attainable. Avoid simple sugars at all costs before games!
- To avoid stinking the joint out, literally and figuratively, avoid foods you aren’t familiar with, you are sensitive to or that are super high in fiber. These foods can cause stomach upset and gas. The less blood you have working out your digestive issues during the game the more you will have delivering nutrients to your muscles.
- Keeping your body hydrated is paramount. The best indicator of your body’s hydration status is your saliva and/or urine. The goal is to get your saliva and urine to be clear liquids. Drinking 2-4 litres of water before your competition will help you reach your pre-game hydration goal. Avoid caffeinated drinks before competing. Caffeine is a diuretic and will deplete your cells of fluid.
These pregame nutrition goals can be accomplished through proper meal timing and food choices. It is recommended that athletes eat 2.5-4 hours before competition depending on the size of the meal, the individual’s metabolic rate and the individual’s preference. The closer to the event the athlete gets, the smaller the meal/snack should be. If you have to eat closer than 2 hours to your event, it is recommended that no more than 300 calories are consumed one hour before show time. All snacks and meals should be balanced with whole grain carbohydrates with slow absorption rates (see glycemicindex.com to learn more about rates of absorption), healthful fats, and complete sources of protein. Check out the table below for good options (Note: you will generally consume enough healthy fats within your protein choices and/or salad dressing to get you through your competition).
Appropriate Food Choices
|Whole Grain Carbs||Complete Proteins||Nutrient Rich Veggies|
|Whole Grain Pasta
Steel Cut Oats
|4-6 oz Steak
|Whole wheat Pasta
Kale Salad w/ Balsamic Vinaigrette
Spinach Salad w/ Lemon and olive oil
Potato w/ butter
Carrots, cauliflower, green beans
|Eggs (# depends of time from game)
Steel Cut Oats