Eat to Win
Parents often wonder, “What is the best meal to give my child before the big game?”
3 or 4 hours before game time
Have a meal such as pasta with sauce or another option that contains easy to digest complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are an ideal food source for exercise because the body stores carbohydrates as glycogen that the body draws on as fuel.
2 hours or less before game time
The closer you get to game time the less you should eat – if you only have an hour or two, it is best to stick with fresh fruit and easy to digest carbohydrates such as bread or bagels. You don’t want to overload the body with a big meal right before game time – overloading your system can cause uncomfortable & distracting symptoms such as nausea & cramping.
Try to avoid high fat foods such as doughnuts, fries, potato chips and chocolate bars, because they are difficult to digest, have limited nutritional value, and can remain in the stomach a long time. Eat foods that you are familiar with. Pre-game meals are not the best time to introduce new foods that your body is not used to.
Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate!
It is important to drink lots of water both before and after the game. Dehydration decreases performance and can lead to dizziness, fatigue, and possibly even heat stroke. Pre-game, a good guideline is to drink freely up to two hours before the game. Then as game time approaches, limit intake to 2 or 3 cups in the two hours leading up to the game, consuming 1 cup around 15 minutes immediately preceding the game.
What you eat after the game is important too! Try to have some fruit or fruit juice within 15 minutes of a workout to help restore lost glycogen, and include some protein to help rebuild muscle tissue. After the game is also an ideal time to replace the fluids lost – so drink up!