Athletes often require a great deal of energy to exercise effectively and achieve optimal performance at game time. However, this energy is not derived solely from a pre-game meal on the day of the event. The food you eat the night before the event (as well as the days preceding) supply you with the energy that your muscles need for the game.
In the collegiate or professional level, it is much easier to control these meals as the athletic trainer simply calls the cafeteria, hotel, or caterer and sets the menu for the night before the day of the event. But, it's not that simple for the individual athlete or high school athlete looking to achieve their athletic goals.
To maintain proper fuel intake, keep the following in mind:
- The meal the night before the event should be a balanced meal with a significant portion consisting of carbohydrates and protein. Pastas such as pizza, spaghetti or lasagna are great choices.
- The pre-event meal should be eaten 3 - 4 hours before the competition to allow enough time for digestion. The pre-event meal should consist of items that the athlete likes and can be easily digested. Heavily spiced foods may cause stomach irritation and high-glycemic carbohydrates such as candy and donuts should also be avoided because they could lead to a blood sugar spike, resulting in less energy.
- Carbohydrates are more quickly digested than are other foods. Examples are pancakes, breads, and pastas.
- Fluids are vital both the night before and the day of the event. Avoid carbonated beverages and caffeine.
The post-event or post-game meal is also important to the athlete. Eating a meal consisting of a good portion of protein will aid the athlete's muscles to repair and recover thus decreasing soreness; while including carbohydrates will aid in replenishing glycogen stores needed for energy.
Just remember, what goes into your body can play a large role in the performance that comes out of it. Try to keep a few of these tips in mind when planning meals around your next competition.
St. Francis Sports Performance Enhancement Program
If you need help maximizing your potential, the St. Francis Sports Performance Enhancement program at ST. FRANCIS millennium can help. Our strategies are designed to enhance skill development and execution, concentrating on conditioning, form and core stabilization so that the athlete can focus on skills and game strategy with their sports coach. To learn more about this program and the services offered, click here.