Knowing how to fuel your body is what will energize you for practices and games.
The three main objectives of PRE-EXERCISE fueling are:
HYDRATE: Ensure that you are optimally hydrated.
DON’T WAIT FOR GAME DAY TO START FUELING: Muscles rely on fuel (nutrients) stored from meals eaten earlier in the day (for an evening game) or the night before (for a morning game).
NEVER START A GAME HUNGRY: The “right” foods eaten before competition fuels the brain and the nervous system (enhancing focus) and stabilizes blood sugar levels (to avoid fatigue or bouncing off the walls feelings). Remember that carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for athletes.
What to do…You want to “time” your pre-exercise meal so that most of the food consumed is out of the stomach, broken down and absorbed by the time exercise starts.
The closer to game time, the lighter the meal. Focus on smaller portions of carbohydrates and reduce the amounts of fat and protein because they take much more time to digest. For example, if you are eating 1 hour before game time you should focus on foods such as fruit, applesauce, yogurt, granola bars which are all highly digestible.
Eating 3 to 4 hours ahead of game time gives you a much broader selection of food to eat because you have more time to digest. At this point you can have a fuller meal such as chicken, mixed vegetables and some type of good carbohydrate such as rice, pasta, quinoa.
The 1-2 hour window before game time is probably the most challenging period to fuel especially during tournament play. Smoothies, small sandwiches, fruit bars may be the way to go.
IMPORTANT – You are all different. What will work for one player may not work for another. Test different types of meals before practices and identify what works for you. Make your PRE-EXERCISE meal work for you.
Please refer to your Game Winning Nutrition book pages 24-27 for meal and snack examples